At MIND, we had a chance to explore the culinary arts with our Taste of Math event a couple of years ago, but there’s more accessible ways to bring math into food, especially during one of the ultimate food-lover’s holidays, Thanksgiving.
Fair Sharing Puzzles for Thanksgiving
Fair sharing is a great topic to bring up for 3rd through 5th graders during Thanksgiving. Fair sharing asks students to divide quantities equally into a certain number of groups. A great introduction to division, fair sharing models have a practical application to the Thanksgiving meal. Because everyone wants their fair share of the stuffing, turkey and (especially) the pie!
Play fair sharing puzzles from ST Math and then extend the lesson with some questions for the class, depending on grade level. These questions can be drawn out visually as individuals or as a whole class:
If you have 2 turkey legs and 2 guests who want legs, how many legs should each guest get?
If you have 12 rolls and 4 guests, how many rolls can each guest get?
If you have 16 servings of stuffing and 7 guests, how many servings can each guest get and what will be leftover?
If you have 8 Thanksgiving guests and 2 pies, how much pie should each guest get?
Turkey Estimation Jars Activity
This Thanksgiving estimation jars activity from PBS is adaptable for classrooms and almost any grade level. Use larger or more jars as a math station. Ask students to draw or write their strategy for estimating in addition to recording their guess.
One idea to reward the students who get the closest to the exact answer is to allow them to lead the class out of the classroom for the holiday break or help you close up the classroom by checking the windows and doors and turning off the lights.
Thanksgiving Cooking Graph Theory Exploration
Denis Sheeran, author of Instant Relevance (reviewed in our list of books for educators), and other books, brought up a great exploration question for students.
What are you eating for Thanksgiving meal? Based on the appliances you have in your house, how can you minimize prep time and have the whole dinner ready?
First, let students think about what information they need: each dish they will be eating, the appliances needed and the prep and cooking time for each dish. Then, how will they organize and visualize the information? This activity can lead to a solid graph theory exploration.
Did you know?ST Math Central is home to this fun printable and many other resources to support your ST Math implementation!
At MIND, we are so thankful for our supporters (educators, partners and donors) who are helping us on our mission to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
About the Author
Calli Wright is the Education Engagement Manager at MIND Research Institute. She loves playing board games and editing their rules, which she often talks about on twitter @CalliWrights.