Spooky Spiders: Multiplication Snack Activity

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Mathematics, Operations (+, -, x, /, etc.)

Grade 1- 3


Students make sense of mathematical concepts by manipulating food items in order to solve a problem. As they solve the problem, they develop their critical-thinking skills.


Show students the food you have brought and explain to them that they will be using this food to solve math problems. Since students will be handling food, make sure that they wash their hands before participating in the activity. It is also a good idea to check for allergies.
Strategies Students Use to Problem Solve
Using Math Snacks as a supplement to your current math curriculum will increase the use of problem-solving skills in your students' daily work.
Some problems lend themselves to one particular strategy, while others can be solved in a variety of ways. Once students or groups of students become comfortable using one strategy, you may want to choose one of the following strategies to expand their strategy choices.
The following are methods that students may choose to solve the question for which they are seeking the answer.
Act It Out
Students can use the problem like a script and act out the question. For example, they can actually hand out five candies to each person and see what happens.
Solve a Simpler Problem
Students can use smaller numbers or a less demanding equation to figure out their solution. While recreating a problem, the student can look for number patterns.
Draw a Diagram
Students can draw a representation of the problem to help them visualize the process for solving. This method seems to be the most common among primary students. Their diagrams may take the form of a circle with tallies, or they may be actual pictures of grapes being crossed out to show subtraction. Choose this method so they can see the relation between numbers and actual "things."
Make a Chart or Table
Students can create tables or charts to organize the pictures or number information. Once they have the organization, the patterns they are seeking are sometimes more visible. Many students prefer a blank graph sheet to help them arrange their data. They may find it difficult to draw straight lines, so provide that paper for them if they need it.
Find a Pattern
By using numbers on their papers or numbers on the hundreds chart, students can look for patterns to help them come up with the next logical number in a sequence or pattern.
Make a Physical Model
Students may need to use actual manipulatives to solve and work through their problem-solving processes. It is important to allow students to use whichever math tools they deem most beneficial. Sometimes, it is the actual snack that can help the students the most when they are allowed the chance to manipulate it.
Students are encouraged to make an educated guess at the possible outcome to the question. They can then use what they already know about numbers to check their early attempts at solutions. If it is necessary, they can revise their answers. It is important to note that students may use several strategies to prove their solutions are either right or wrong.
Work Backwards
Sometimes the answer is in front of the students, and they need to work their way backwards to find the final solution to the questions they are trying to answer. This is also a great technique to help students justify their answers by using a different strategy.
It is important that students have the opportunity to experiment with different strategies and that students are given the opportunity to communicate their efforts. Every student can express his or her thoughts about mathematics. Some students communicate with numbers, and others communicate with words. The important consideration here is that students develop more critical thinking skills and the ability to reach and explain a viable solution to any problem-solving situation. The activities in Math Snacks are designed to encourage this development.


  • round crackers
  • pretzel sticks
  • peanut butter
  • raisins
  • Spooky Spiders activity page

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