Soup Du Jour

Will all of the soup fit?

Will the entire box of soup fit in the container?

In this 3 act math task, we are given a glimpse of a “box” of Campbell’s Soup and we are left wondering if the entire rectangular prism-shaped box will fit in the rectangular-prism shaped Tupperware container.

This task can be modified for use in Grades 1 to Grade 9 where students learn early on about capacity, however they are using non-standard measurements. As we move up through the grades, we begin using standard measurements.

While I will provide enough information for use in an intermediate classroom, please note that we do not want to rush students to formulas too soon. Be sure to reference the curriculum and use your professional judgement to ensure that you are not rushing to the formula before students are ready.

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!

*In a Grade 1 to 4 classroom, I’d much rather have the actual container of soup and Tupperware container so students can see this happening concretely.

Give your students some time to share out what they noticed and wondered while watching the video with their neighbours. I usually give about 60 seconds for this.

Then, share out to the entire class.

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

  • There were two rectangular prisms.
  • One was taller and narrow, while the other was more like a cube.
  • That’s my favourite kind of soup!
  • Is the entire container of soup going to fit in the container?
  • Which holds more?
  • 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:

Will the soup fit in the plastic container?

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

You might even have students vote on whether it will overflow, leave some room or fit perfectly.

If I’m in a grade 5 classroom or above, I would have students estimate the dimensions of each container and see if that can help them update their prediction. Sharing out any new information that comes out of that activity would be beneficial for the class as well.

Act 2: Reveal Information to Fuel Sense Making

In a Grade 1-4 classroom, we would actually allow students to do the experiment to let students experience the conservation of volume.

In a grade 5 to 9 classroom, giving the students the opportunity to conduct the experiment would also be ideal, however prior to giving them the opportunity to pour one into the other, we would ask them to tell us what other information they might want to improve their prediction.

Some students might request the dimensions of the containers, which we can provide below:

Soup Du Jour 3 Act Math - Act 2 Container Dimensions

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.

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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