Girl Guide Cookies

How many boxes of cookies are there?

How Many Cookies Are There?

In this 3 act math task, we are briefly shown a large bulk package of Girl Guide Cookie boxes.

This task can be used in Kindergarten classes all the way to middle school grades depending on what information you are willing to give them.

This task can be used in a variety of ways including:

  • building estimation skills;
  • building counting skills including skip counting;
  • building early multiplication;
  • building two-digit by two-digit multiplication; and,
  • many more.

Note: If you’re on the hunt for Dan Meyer’s Nissan Girl Scout Cookies task, I’ve linked to it as an extension below!

Let’s get started!

Act 1: Sparking Curiosity

Ask students to create a chart that says “notice” and “wonder” at the top.

While they watch the following video clip, have them independently jot down everything they notice and wonder.

Ready? Set. Go!

Give your students some time to share out what they noticed and wondered while watching the video with their neighbours. I usually give about 90 seconds for this.

Then, share out to the entire class.

Here are some examples of things they may have noticed or wondered:

  • A box.
  • Girl Guide cookies.
  • How many cookies are there?
  • How many boxes of cookies are in there?
  • How much does it weigh?
  • And many others…

After taking the time to jot down each notice and wonder, as well as respecting each as equally as possible (i.e.: not getting super excited for one and not another), we will try to narrow down to a question such as:

How many boxes of Girl Guide cookies are there?

Give students an opportunity to make a prediction by first thinking independently and then having them share their prediction with a neighbour.

Act 2: Reveal Information to Fuel Sense Making

In a Kindergarten to Grade 2 classroom, it would be ideal if we had a case of Girl Guide Cookies so students could work with it concretely. I know this isn’t always possible, but it is always worth trying.

You might also consider showing students a view from the top looking into the carton of Girl Guide cookie boxes to promote students doubling for the total:

Girl Guide Cookies 3 Act Math Act 2 - Top View

As we move up the developmental continuum of mathematics understanding, we might give students more information to wrestle with. If I am working with capacity/volume using non-standard units, I might consider bringing in an empty Girl Guide Cookie case and an empty Girl Guide Cookie box to have students fill them with connecting cubes.

Alternatively, we could have them estimate by placing one (1) Girl Guide Cookie Box into the empty case.

If we are working with capacity/volume using standard units of measure, I might give the following images to allow them to use their understanding of the volume of a rectangular prism and proportional relationships:

Girl Guide Cookies 3 Act Math Act 2 01 Case Measurements

Girl Guide Cookies 3 Act Math Act 2 02 Case Measurements

Girl Guide Cookies 3 Act Math Act 2 03 Box Measurements

Girl Guide Cookies 3 Act Math Act 2 04 Box Measurements

Visualizing the Volume of a Rectangular Prism

If you’re looking for a visual way to approach (or recall) the volume of a rectangular prism, check out this video I created.

Fuel Sense Making: Consolidating the Learning

Once students have been given enough information to now make calculations to improve their predictions, we will use the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions to Fuel Sense Making and Consolidate the learning. While we should already be anticipating prior to the lesson to prepare ourselves for what we might see during this stage of the lesson, we are now Monitoring, Selecting, Sequencing and finally Connecting student work to the learning goal for the day.

Interested in seeing a full consolidation of this lesson? Let me know in the comments and I’ll put it together!

Act 3: Reveal the Answer

Students will then watch Act 3 in order to determine how close their updated predictions were to what happened in the real world.

Or, you might opt to show this image.

Girl Guide Cookies act 3

New to Using 3 Act Math Tasks?

Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

Extension #1: Factors

If you’re exploring factors, you might consider showing this video after asking kids to think about all of the different factors (or “arrays”) they could build using the boxes of cookies.

Extension #2: How Many Cookies in a Box? In a Case?

It would be easy to extend this problem to double-digit multiplication by asking students to predict how many cookies would come in an entire case of Girl Guide Cookies. This would have students making a prediction about how many cookies come in a single box (is it 10? 12? 24? who knows!) and then, they’d use that prediction to multiply by the 12 boxes that come in a case.

This can be a great way to build in opportunities to deepen an understanding of multiplication and automaticity around multiplication facts.

Here’s the video you can show to allow students to check their prediction of how many cookies in a single box.

Sorry, I’m not foolish enough to buy an entire case of Girl Guide Cookies to give you an act 3 video showing how many cookies come in a case in total! HA!

Extension #3: How much does a case cost?

Wait a second, that gives me a thought! I didn’t want to buy an entire case because they cost A LOT OF MONEY!

Ask your students how much an entire case would cost.

Maybe you set up a story that a Girl Guide Member actually lost an entire case… how much would she have to repay?

Each box has a cost of $5 and we now know there are 12 boxes in a case.

More opportunities for fact fluency!

Extension #4: Dan Meyer’s Nissan Girl Scout Cookies

It was only after I published this task and went to quickly find it using Google that I was reminded of Dan Meyer’s Nissan Girl Scout Cookies task. I was actually upset with myself considering that I had been present for a keynote speech that Dan gave a few years back and he actually used this task. I must be getting old.

Here’s the act 1 video from his task:

In words, Dan’s task is basically outlining – using a much more curious approach – the following question:

Nissan is going to stuff the trunk of a Nissan Rogue full of boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Nissan lists the Rogue’s trunk space as 39.3 cubic feet. A box of cookies measures 7 inches x 2.3 inches x 4.6 inches. How many boxes will they fit in the trunk?

This task actually fits in nicely here because it gives this entire task a very low floor and a very heigh ceiling. I might suggest that every grade level can access this task – maybe starting at different points. However, I do typically like starting from the very beginning focusing on estimates and curiosity building prior to diving into the more challenging parts of the problem.

How’d It Go?

This is a lesson that is pretty simple to orchestrate and lead in your classroom because it Sparks Curiosity and leaves lots of room for students to discuss and make predictions.

Let me know in the comments how it went in your classroom!


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About Kyle Pearce

I’m Kyle Pearce and I am a former high school math teacher. I’m now the K-12 Mathematics Consultant with the Greater Essex County District School Board, where I uncover creative ways to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in mathematics. Read more.


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