Monday, May 18, 2009

Melon Balls: How our Lunch Shaped Up

I've missed blogging, sharing stories from our life. Many weeks have passed, many blogs I wanted to write, but didn't have time to type. Maybe you will hear those later.

Today, however, math jumped out of our watermelon. Our oldest daughter was helping prepare lunch. She pulled the watermelon out of the fridge as the other daughter yelled, "Let's make melon balls!" Perfect. The younger children hadn't heard of melon balls. We took turns balling the melon into spheres of all sizes and density. Soon we have a whole bowl full of spheres and began thinking of other spheres we knew: globes, soccer balls, baseballs, soap-on-a-rope, golf balls. eyeballs. Our list ran long;the gears in our minds, spinning. By the time we made and ate 50 melon balls (counting by ones and then tens) we understood the concept of "sphere".

Learning while preparing and eating food is what my book Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula is all about. Each lesson teaches a math concept and then extends the lesson to content areas, suggesting titles of books for additional practice or reinforcement.

So, in keeping with the concept of "sphere", here are ways to extend and reinforce the lesson.

1. Round up an orange, either off the tree, fresh off the orange tree in the backyard or from the fruit basket. Compare its spherical shape with the shape of a flat one-dimensional circle. Discuss the differences. Find examples about the house or on a nature walk. Read Circles Around Town by Nathan Olson or Circles by Sarah Schuette.

2. Cut the orange in 8 slices and divide evenly (if possible) among those at the table. Discuss the orange in terms of its fractional parts: half, quarters and eighths. Read Each Orange Had 8 Slices: A Counting Book by Paul Giganti, Jr.

3. Use a set of fraction circles to experiment with fractional parts of a circle. Cut out your own fraction circles from construction paper.

4. Measure the circumference of the orange with a string. Measure the circumference of other spheres in the home (golf ball, baseball, or beach ball). How does the circumference of the orange compare in length with the other spheres?

5. Make fresh squeezed orange juice.

6. Discuss the nutritional value of oranges. Hint: think Vitamin C, scurvy and the like.

7. Visit an orange packing plant or grove.

8. Draw and shade an orange, talking about light, dark and shadows. Research shading on the Internet, with a parent's supervision, of course.

9. Read Sunny Numbers: A Florida Counting Book by Carol Crane.

10. Mix red and yellow paint to make orange. Add black and white to make shades and tints. Use the paints to sponge paint with circles or to paint an orange, shaded with the tints of orange paint.

1 comment:

  1. Makes me wish mine were little again!

    PS Oranges are GREAT tools for displaying Longitude and Latitude!