Need a fun math activity to introduce place value to your 2nd and 3rd grade students? Try Wonka bar caramel packaging! A memorable & engaging way to give kids hands-on experience with ones, tens, and hundreds!
As a teacher of 7-9 year olds, it’s no secret that if you can relate learning to food (especially candy), you will have the undivided attention of pretty much every student in your presence.
This math activityrelates candy to ones, tens, and hundreds and is perfect for the beginning of a place value unit or to use with a small group of students who are struggling with place value concepts.
1. Three different colors of construction paper (brown for the caramels, then you choose 2 more)
2. A volunteer with an hour to cut out a whole lot of brown one inch squares
3. Lots of glue sticks
4. A willingness to pretend you are Willy Wonka
5. A whistle
1. If you want to use the bars as math manipulatives later, it’s smart to cut the yellow strips yourself. Just make sure the strips are large enough to hold 10 individual caramel squares.
2. If you don’t have a parent volunteer, don’t worry about making the “caramel” squares perfect. Just cut long one-inch strips of brown paper and then hand cut stacks with scissors as your oompa loompas are working. They don’t need to be perfect!
3. Start with the largest pieces of construction paper available to you for the boxes. Then scale down for the bars and caramels. If you have 11×14 sheets of construction paper these work perfectly for boxes!
Wonka Packaging Directions:
Present the activity to the class. They are now oompa loompas working for you (Willy Wonka). Their job is to package as many caramels as they can. Caramels come in groups of 1 (single caramels), 10 (bars), and 100 (boxes). Oompa loompas work in cooperative groups of 3-4.
Introduce Willy’s rules for packaging:
1. Take only as many caramels as you can package
2. Package 1 caramel by writing “Wonka” on the front
3. When you have 10 caramels you must package them in a bar by gluing them neatly on yellow paper in a long strip.
4. When you have 10 bars you must package them in a box by gluing them neatly on red paper in a rectangle.
You can get as into the Willy Wonka mode as you’d like. Go all out! Tell students they’re Oompa Loompas, they’re working in your factory, they must call you Willy (our job is funny so often!), they must stop when they hear your whistle, they may sing Wonka songs as they create caramels, bars, and boxes, but they may not talk about any personal loompa business. Save it for recess!
Now off they go. If you want some extra pizzazz, download some Wonka music or a Youtube video. Go old school or Danny Elfman. It’s up to you!
Here are the finished products:
Caramel = 1
Bar = 10
Box = 100
1 box, 2 bars, 1 caramel = 121 total caramels
After caramel packaging time have students make different numbers with the Wonka bars. (2 bars 3 caramels = 23 total caramels, etc.).
Then have them compare and contrast Wonka Bars and Base-10 Blocks.
Keep these to use as math manipulatives for addition and subtraction too!
Relate adding to repackaging new bars or boxes. When introducing subtraction, show students that borrowing/regrouping is like breaking down or cutting up the bars, and boxes. This is a simple, yet powerful way to help students who need a hands-on example of why addition and subtraction algorithms work!
If you want to try this activity out with your kiddos, you can get a FREE editable copy of the oompa loompa instructions I use with my students, just click on the button below and an email with an automatic download link will be sent to your inbox.
Hi Katie! This looks like such a fun activity! I LOVE the idea! Thanks for sharing.
Have a great week!
What a cute idea!!! We just found you and are now following. We would love it if you stopped by sometime!
We did this activity today in my first grade & the kids LOVED it !!! Thank you so much for the idea & I just posted about on my blog tonight. I credited you with the genius idea, of course! 🙂
I'm so glad you liked it! I saw all the cute pictures on your blog of the activity. I love how you modified it for first graders! Gotta love Youtube too!