While we were in Rome with Google Earth, we saw a pizzeria on every corner.
Pizza is perfect for studying fractions. Our friend Debby Picou showed us how to make a fractions center with pizza slice cutouts. Just fit them together into parts like 3/8 or 1/2 and glue them onto paper. Label them on the back. Put the partial pizzas into a center with plenty of individual cutouts. Have students use the single cutouts to recreate the fractional pizzas. Use it for pair work by adding a die. Kids choose a partial pizza and roll, filling in the number of slices they’ve rolled. If they don’t have enough room to lay down as many pieces as they’ve rolled, they’ll have to wait for another turn — getting that last slice can be a challenge!
You can also find games like these ready-made if you prefer:
- The Learning Resources – Smart Snacks Piece-A-Pizza Fractions game is a good choice for preschool, since it’s plastic you can wash and disinfect.
- Their Pizza Fraction Fun Game is a good choice for elementary or middle school classrooms.
- Pizza Fraction Bingo is good for whole-class use.
- Magnetic Pizza Fractions stick to your white board and make it easy to explain fractions to the class. We also like to set it up on a cookie sheet or file cabinet for individual extra practice.
- The Pizza Fractions! Bulletin Board is perfect for your math corner. It works as a bulletin board or as a set of manipulatives. You can even use the pieces to create a Big Book.
Scholastic’s pizza bulletin board is a fast way to get a pizza feeling, but you may not want to focus on fractions in your decor. Let the class cut circles of paper and decorate them with their fantasy pizza toppings. Hook this up with lessons on nutrition and encourage plenty of veggies on those pizzas, or make it plain fun.
Set out some pizza books in your library or reading corner:
- The book The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane Auch is a fun spoof of traditional fairy tales. Have students list all the fairy tale references they notice.
- Tony and the Pizza Champions is the story of a pizza tossing team and their trip to the international pizza tossing championship in Italy. The author is an 8-time pizza tossing champion!
- The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philemon Sturges is, not surprisingly, an update of the traditional story.
- Pizza Counting by Christina Dobson is a fun book for the youngest students — use it with the bulletin board idea above, having kids glue cutout toppings to their pizza circles as they count their way through the book.
- A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky is a collection of poems. Read the title one (about an enormous pizza “…resplendent with oceans of sauce”) to kick off your pizza theme.
- Pete’s a Pizza is William Steig’s classic wordplay.
- Grow Your Own Pizza: Gardening Plans and Recipes for Kids is nonfiction, with a wonderful plan for a pizza garden. If you can work out the logistics (at school, or at home with your own kids), there are few better learning experiences than planting a garden. The number of science, math, and physical education connections is impressive, and the kids will enjoy their time int he fresh air.
Just for fun, a 2GB Pizza USB Flash Drive completes the pizza look in your room with pizazz.
Check out some online resources:
- The Online Pizza Museum breaks it down by the regions the ingredients hail from. Each ingredient then has links to further data about the plants and animals involved. There are many multicultural images suggesting art and history connections, and lots of great data. You can knock off a bunch of economics standards with this site. Have the kids locate all the places mentioned, and cover geography as well.
- Go to your local pizza place, tell them you’re a teacher, and be charming — you can probably persuade them to give you a bunch of their pizza boxes. Have students make salt dough maps in them, dividing up the places they’ve learned about. What a great display! If you don’t have your own favorite salt dough recipe already, try 2 cups of salt and 1/2 c cornstarch to 1 c water, Cook it together over medium heat, stirring constantly, till dough forms. Spread it in the bottom of the pizza box, molding landforms as you go. Students can paint their maps once they dry. (You can also buy pizza boxes if you’d rather not beg.)
- Create a math lesson based on nutrition information labels for pizza. Here is data for Pizza Hut’s pizza in particular, and here is Atlanta Bread Company, for comparison. Have students try out search engines to find nutrition data for their favorite brands of pizza, and chart the differences. Take it a step further and calculate the values for homemade pizza, using recipes the kids bring in from home. Do you see a science fair project in the making here?
- The Michigan Dept. of Agriculture has a similar lesson plan complete with a recipe to try in class. If you’re in Michigan, go with the whole unit for a nice state lesson; you can adapt it for other states with a bit of research.
- High school geometry with a pizza theme.
- National Geographic’s lesson on The Geography of Pizza has economics points as well.
The logical culmination of your pizza theme is a pizza party!