Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

How many Reese's Peanut Butter Cups will he eat?

Sparking Curiosity With One- and Two-Digit Multiplication

In this 3 act math task, students are shown a short edited clip of ErikTheElectric’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Challenge with the number of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups covered up.

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

  • building estimation skills;
  • building multiplicative thinking using arrays; and,
  • many more.

To give you some back-story, I did a workshop with the fine folks at HPEDSB in Belleville recently and Wendy Goodman sent me a Tweet a while later sharing how she and some others modified a task I had done with them:

I was immediately intrigued and realized that THIS VIDEO could have taken the curiosity sparking of the task I had done with the HPEDSB group to the next level. As expected, Wendy was more than happy to share where she found the video and I was off to the races.

Before making edits to the video, I thought it would be wise to reach out to the creator of the video:

He was super quick to respond favourably:

Game time!

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 rapid write everything they notice and wonder.

Ready? Set. Go!

*Original video by ErikTheElectric.

After giving students time to watch the video and jot down everything they notice and wonder, have them share out 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:

  • Is the guy swearing?
  • He’s loud.
  • I think he is going to eat a lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
  • How many Reeses Peanut Butter Cups is that??
  • How many calories is that?
  • 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 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 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

After students have already made an initial estimate, this is the point where we’ll reveal some more information for students to chew on. In this case, I show them this video.

*Original video by ErikTheElectric.

Or this screenshot.

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.009 Act 2 Screenshot

And then, I’d have them update their estimate based on what they see.

The key here is that students don’t know if they can see all of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, however it should give them a more accurate estimate if they use multiplication strategies.

As students are tinkering and working with different sets of dimensions for each array, I might highlight an “approximate” set of dimensions, however they don’t need to use them…

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.011 Act 2 Screenshot Dimensions

At this point is when I want to be monitoring students as they work by selecting and sequencing the different strategies I see in the classroom to help inform my consolidation.

This is the portion of the lesson where I want to FUEL SENSE MAKING and help press students for understanding.

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 estimates were to what really happened in the video.

*Original video by ErikTheElectric.

Or, you might opt to show this image.

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups Act 3 Screenshot

Here’s an alternate (or supplementary) act 3 video you could also use.

Extension #1: How Much Does It Cost for 250 Regular Size Reeses Peanut Butter Cups?

Check out act 1 of this extension:

Students are left to determine how much it would cost for 250 regular size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups 3 Act Math Task.001 How Much Act 2

After students are given some time to work out the problem using tools and representations to show their thinking, you can show them the act 3 video.

Alternatively, you can show the following image:

After students check their result with the actual cost, they might be left wondering:

Why didn’t the cost I worked out match the cost Erik paid at the store?

Give students an opportunity to discuss with their table groups what might be going on and then share out.

If no students come up with sales tax as the culprit, you can help them out with that.

So now the question is… what must the sales tax rate be in the state/province that Erik is purchasing his Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in?

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups 3 Act Math Task.004 How much sales tax act 2

Sorry, no special act 3 video or image for this one!

Extension #2: How Many Calories and How Much Sugar?

In the original video, Erik decides to purchase Snack Size Reeses Peanut Butter Cups instead of Regular Size to save some money.

Show act 1 from this extension.

Then, after letting students make some predictions, give them this act 2 image:

After they solve and share their thinking, you can reveal the act 3 video.

Extension #3: Fractional and Measurement Thinking

Check out this task that can be a great place to go after doing the initial task and/or extensions to try and build in fractional & measurement thinking:

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups 1 sixth sugar question.001

Here is the question:

At a party, guests ate 14 packages of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
There is 1 sixth cups of sugar in each package.
How much sugar is in 14 packages?

While the question might not seem interesting on the surface, there is a TON of sense making to be had here.

Read more about how this task was modified for use in grades 1, 4, and 7 as well as the variety of strategies we can use to access this task on a developmental continuum here.

Other 3 Act Math Tasks involving Reese’s

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.

Super huge thanks to ErikTheElectric for letting me modify his video for mathematical joy! Check out the original video by ErikTheElectric here:

Be sure to give him a “thumbs up” and maybe even a subscribe if you want to see him do more competitive eating!

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


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!



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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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