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It’s good to teach geometry by showing the students shapes. We discuss them, we point to them, and we even draw them. But have you ever nibbled them?
About halfway into my geometry unit, at the point where the students seems to be glazed over with tons of geometry vocabulary words, I pass out four or five Saltine crackers for each student. After a brief partner discussion where they use math vocabulary to describe one of the crackers, in the large group we discuss the words I hope they used with their partner: polygon, square, right angles, regular sides, estimated length of the sides, perimeter, etc. I then ask the students to “nibble” some of the shapes we’ve been studying. For example, we might nibble a pentagon, and then talk about its features, then eat the cracker. We would also nibble a rhombus, trapezoid, hexagon, or the ever-tricky octagon. With each “nibbling,” we would show off the shape to the group, discuss its features, and then eat the cracker (they love that part!).
Sometimes, to differentiate, I might have stronger students nibble some of the more difficult shapes (trapezoid, parallelogram, or rhombus) while others might be better suited to nibble the shapes that are less challenging. I might even partner up students to nibble two different shapes and then share using math vocabulary.
Short but sweet, this mini-lesson helps to reinforce many math vocabulary words while having a little fun! The students enjoy it immensely, and would eat a whole box of crackers to prove they know their geometry! Food is a great way to get (and keep!) students engaged. Just don’t forget to allow the students to get a sip of water at the end!
Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed., teaches fifth grade at a private school in Atlanta and works at The School Box at Southlake during the summer months. We love when she contributes her stellar teaching ideas to A Learning Experience!