Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aldi Deal Turned Amazing Math Lesson

Haven't blogged since late June...evaluation season, summer, husband home, morning sickness, pre-writing research, let's just say, blogging sadly took a back seat.

Had to take a break from my day's schedule of writing and grading to pass along the wonder and enjoyment of a learning adventure which took place in our home today. It all started with a milk-induced trip to the local Aldi supermarket. Further down the milk aisle, a fabulous deal on sixteen inch pizzas caught my eye. I loaded four into my cart.

Arriving home, children welcomed me. MILK! We unloaded, and of course the twenty-inch pizza boxes caught their eyes. Never (except for at Nanny's house on Sunday when she feeds fifteen to twenty people) had they seen so many pizza boxes. We quickly discovered the large boxes would not fit in the freezer (our first math problem). We took the pizzas out of the box and the next thing I knew shouts of joy and creativity pierced my ears. They wanted the boxes for "their restaurant".

After saving the cardboard boxes from a trip to the recycle bin, the four girls, ages four to twelve, began to brainstorm what diameter pizza would fit in the box. This was done by invading my buffet of circular platters. Each platter, after estimating its size, made its way into the box confirming the hypothesis of whether or not it would fit. Large pizza size- solved! "Oh, wait we need medium and smalls!" I heard. "We have to figure out the size of the small pizzas and see how many will fit in one box." Within an hour, a variety of small, medium, and large crusts lay on the kitchen table.

Next: the toppings. The four girls began helping one another cut geometric shapes from our scrap box of construction paper: circle pepperoni, oval sausage, triangle mushrooms, and rectangle cheese. An hour and thirty minutes later, pizzas were complete. Time to make menus.

When given the time and access to resources, great learning takes place. Oh, yes, there was mess- hundreds of shredded pieces of construction paper on the carpet. I decided to do some writing in the next room (within earshot, of course)so I would torture myself by watching the paper shredding process. Somehow, two and one-half hours later (yes, I was in and out of the room, but chose not to stress) the learning that took place outweighed the confetti party on my carpet.

The girls have now invited the neighbor over to play pizza delivery with menus and prices, so the learning continues. And I did nothing (except make the platters, paper and glue available) to make it happen. I could not have planned it any better.

Sorry there are no pictures...perhaps I will add them later when the pizzas are not being played with, I mean learned with!

Math and pizza related library resources:
Pizza Counting, Christina Dobson
Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, Philmon Sturges
Let's Make Pizza, Mary Hill
The Coin Counting Book, Rozanne Lanczak Williams
Give Me Half, Stuart Murphy
Dimes, Mary Hill
Dollars, Mary Hill
Piece=Part=Portion, Scott Gifford

Want more ideas about how to teach math through everyday learning experiences, especially food preparation. Check out my book Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula.