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Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math

In math lab lessons at Edith I. Starke Elementary School, I combined the use of The News-Journal´s weekly grocery ads with the book, Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun With Math (by Amy Axelrod) to create a problem solving activity. I read the book to 4th and 5th grade students twice. The first reading was to enjoy the book. During the second reading, students were to calculate the amount of money found by the Pig family during a search of their house.

Then, using the newspaper grocery ads, the students´ assignment was to plan a complete and balanced meal, making sure that the total cost did not exceed the amount set by the Pigs´ total collection of found money. Students cut out and pasted their purchased items onto a paper plate to show their meals. The plates were then glued to placemats (pieces of 12" x 19" construction paper).

The students listed each purchase and its price on a strip of register tape, closely resembling an actual grocery receipt. They also glued the register tape to the placemat. With this activity, students learned to problem solve and to demonstrate knowledge of nutrition: in addition to practicing addition, subtraction and multiplication skills with decimals.

The students liked the Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun With Math activity immensely. In addition to the enjoyment of finding food for their meal, they also learned that the same food may cost more at one location than at another. I was positive that students enjoyed the activity when, on the second day, they asked me if they were going to "get to work on their meals" as they eagerly awaited the beginning of class. I knew then that I had them hooked.

This activity helped the students´ work on their skills of adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals without the use of a worksheet. Using the register tape (a real-world item) to show their math with their purchases seemed less like work to them. Now, the students have a greater success at their money center when they are required to total purchases. I adapted the activity from Tonya Burke, a teacher from Broward County, who presented at the FCTM´s Fall Math Conference in October, 2002.

Janice Cornwell
Math Fusion
Starke Elementary School

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