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March 14th is Pi Day, but why not ditch the apple pies this year and celebrate with your students’ favorite kind of pie … pizza! Believe us when we say it will be much easier of an opportunity to teach fraction concepts ! For this pizza math activity, we’re using Personal Pepperoni Pizza Kits from Little Caesars Fundraising, but you could also do it with construction paper.
What you’ll need:
Note: This activity can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. Adjust your materials accordingly.
- Two pizza crusts (or construction paper circles)
- Pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and toppings (or construction paper equivalents)
- Pizza cutter* (or scissors)
* look for a kid-safe option
What you’ll do:
Teacher tip: Start out with a fun, pizza-related read aloud to get students to make the connection between pizza and math. We suggest Peg + Cat: The Pizza Problem because it uses the language of “half” and “whole.”
Allow students time to assemble all five of their pizzas with sauce, cheese, and toppings. While they’re working, circulate, make observations, and ask questions. For example, “I see you’ve put cheese on half your pizza” or “How did you decide how many toppings to put on?”
If you’re indeed making pizzas, you will then need to bake them.
Once the pizzas are ready, instruct students to cut one of them in half. Write 1/2 on the board and then explain that the bottom number (denominator) represents the total number of slices and the top number (numerator) represents a certain amount of those slices.
For their second pizza, ask the students to first think about cutting their other pizza in thirds. Some kids will try to make vertical cuts, so you’ll need to get them thinking about what’s fair (that should be easy with pizza!). Have them draw their ideas on the board and determine how to make the slices even (the wide “peace” sign). Reinforce the concept of fractions as equal parts, and then cut the pizza.
Have students compare the sizes of the different slices. Ask them which is greater: 1/2 or 1/3? Some students will insist that 1/3 is greater because 3 is greater than 2. Use the pizza slices to reinforce that the greater the denominator, the smaller the piece. (Invite them to think about 1/20 of a pizza. That’s an awfully tiny piece if you have to share with 19 other people.) Write 1/2 > 1/3 on the board.
Take the pizza that is cut in half and have the students cut it in half again. Ask them what fraction they have now. Write 1/4 on the board.
Introduce the concept of equivalent fractions. Ask students how many of the smaller slices make up one bigger slice? Write 2/4 = 1/2 on the board.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 by having students cut the fourths into eighths. You could also cut the thirds in half to make sixths. Create more equivalent fractions and write the equations on the board.
To close your pizza math activity, allow your students time to explore with different fractions and equivalencies and talk with each other about their new understandings. Finally, if you used real pizza, well … now’s the time to eat it!
Use These Pizza Kits in Your Classroom (and Earn Money for Your School!)
With $6 profit on every Pizza Kit sold and online ordering available, Little Caesars Pizza Kits are an easy way to raise funds to support your school programs.