The Plate Stories (It’s Math!)

My best ideas come in the face of disengaged children.  That happened a few weeks ago.  The children were restless and I knew that my math lesson was a real yawner.   On a whim, I told the children to pull out their white boards and dry erase markers.

I demonstrated how to draw a plate, fork, spoon, knife and napkin AND six delicious meatballs.

Next, I told them:  “I invited you to my house and made dinner.  You each received six meatballs on your plate.  You ate two.”  They erase two meatballs and THEN write the math sentence:  6 – 2 = 4.   I model the first math sentence.  After that, I expect them to demonstrate their own understandings.  This is a great time to make notes on who has the understanding and who does not.

I continue my story:  “I offer you a wonderful roasted tomato basil sauce to put on your meatballs. ”  (The children draw sauce on the meatballs.)  You decide to try to eat one.  Only one.”

They erase one meatball and then write the math sentence.” I go on like this.

This great fun and the children beg to do it.   You can use it for both addition and subtraction stories.  I call them my Plate Stories because one little girl came to school one day and asked, “Mrs. Haughey, can we do the Plate Stories today?”  Brilliant!  Yes!

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  1. Mrs. Cupcake says:

    Food + learning = a big hit, always!
    A Cupcake for the Teacher

  2. What fabulous improvising – the mark of an excellent teacher. Kuddos!! Renee

  3. Kerren says:

    Great lesson! Thanks . . . on a side note: one of my kiddos just taught us a “share and teach” lesson on table setting. He used a similar “mat” with the plate in the middle. Then, he wrote “left” on the left side and “right” on the right side. We all counted the number of letter used to write each of those words. Next, he wrote “fork” under the word left, and “knife” and “spoon” below the word right. As we counted the number of letter below each word, we figured out the lesson and we each drew our own table setting mats. I think it was a lesson that “took!” Do people even care which side — or for that matter, do we even set the table any longer? *I hope so! Thanks again for sharing your wonderful ideas!

  4. This is an absolutely GREAT idea! Thanks so much for sharing it! I’ve got it saved for future reference. Much more relevant, too, than many of the word problems the students get from the curriculum.

  5. Anonymous says:

    thanks for sharing.

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