Spaghetti and Meatballs

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SWBAT write expressions to solve real-life problems.

Big Idea

Students will use a children's book to create expressions and solve a problem.


5 minutes
  • POD

As student enter the room, they will have a seat, take out their Problem of the Day (POD) sheet and begin to work on the question on the SMARTboard. The POD also allows students to use MP 3 continually based on the discussions we have about the problem each day.

POD: Using the seven tables in our classroom, arrange the seats so that each of the 30 students in our class has a seat. Is there a way to arrange them so that everyone is facing the SMARTboard? Can the seats be arranged to accommodate an additional two students? Draw a model classroom to support your answers.

The activity today is based on a story that asks for different seating arrangements given a growing number of people. I want them to be thinking along those lines as we introduce the story and the activity. Since we are talking about the classroom, they have some ownership in how the room is arranged.

  • Learning Target

The target for the day is also on the SMARTboard each day when students enter the room.  The target for today’s lesson is for students to write expressions to solve real-life problems


25 minutes

The activity today is based on the book, Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns. The book presents several situations that require students to create expressions to determine how to arrange seating for a growing group of people. The book is lively and we will stop at different places to discuss the arrangement and how the expressions change. Students will get to think about and discuss the differences in the expressions they create. When we finish the story, the goal is that students will see that the original arrangement was the best way to seat everybody. That will become obvious as they move through the story.

We will stop to create an expression and discuss the arrangement at the following places in the story:

  1. Page 7 (each table has 4 place settings)
  2. Page 8 (two tables are pushed together)
  3. Page 9 (push two more tables together)
  4. Page 11 (push two more tables together for a total of 6)
  5. Page 12 (push two more table together for a total of 8)
  6. Page 15 (two groups of four tables)
  7. Page 19 (push 8 tables together to form one long line)
  8. Page 22 (divide the one long line into two equal lines)
  9. Page 23 (make the two long lines into 4 pairs of tables)
  10. Page 29 (divide the four pairs of tables into 8 single tables)



5 minutes

Exit Ticket

To end the class today, students will respond to a prompt that has them apply what we did in class today to a new problem situation.

PROMPT: Create an arrangement to seat 30 kids in our class if we want students in groups of four. Write an expression that represents this arrangement.