As more and more standards are expected to be mastered by today’s students, teachers today may find themselves looking for way to combine subjects while still being able to cover a variety of material. Elementary and Home Economics teachers can take advantage of the following activities which involve math, science, health and nutrition.
As part of a thematic unit on nutrition, I have discovered a math activity that incorporates graphing and the food pyramid. Starting on Monday, I have students write down what they eat at every meal for four days. On Friday, we go over the foods and put a tally in each category that they represent. Then, the students make a bar graph to see the quantities of each food group they are eating. I have a sample bar graph out that has the recommended daily allowances multiplied over a four day period. Most students are amazed how much their graph differs with the recommended daily allowances. The exercises are a great way to combine graphing and nutrition.
To teach the concepts of budgeting, I like to use an activity that uses data analysis. I save my old grocery receipts and cut them into groups of approx. five to ten items each and have the students write their names on the top of the paper. Then on the back I have them copy: mean, median, mode, and range. Students find the answers to the corresponding term. I find it is easier for me to check the receipt if the students write on it as opposed to having them do it on a sheet of paper and stapling it. This way, it’s less weight for me to have to carry home and I am saving paper.
When it is time to do a unit on agriculture and botany, I have a favorite activity entitled, “Predictable Plants”. First, I give students a Styrofoam cup, soil, and six bean seeds. After they have been planted, watered, and labeled, I give them a blank calendar. We fill it out for the month and I ask students to predict how many of the seeds will grow on the given days. I explain how for the first few days they may not see anything but then they may start to see seedlings sprout by the end of the week. We talk about how some may not grow from that stage and how some may keep on growing. After the students predict the data, they check it every day and mark in the correct amount with another color pen. At the end of the month we examine the data to make fractions out of the responses. I find this activity works best if it can be started as close to the first of the month as possible to correspond with the calendar that the students create.
These examples were just a few that can be modified to suit students’ levels. If wanting to incorporate a writing activity into data analysis, students can write about the performance or interpretation of their data. A fun way to promote these activities is to offer an incentive, such as a no homework pass, to students who accurately predict or answer questions correctly. By utilizing as many subjects as possible, the activity can be stretched out over a two to three day project, depending on grade level.