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How Does Your Math Garden Grow? Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MPS0201
Submitted by: Chantel Voinier
Email: voinc6e0@elon.edu
School/University/Affiliation: Elon College
Endorsed by: Deborah Thurlow Assistant Teacher to Education
             Elon College in Elon College, North Carolina 27244 Date: May 10, 1999

Grade Level: 4, 5


  • Mathematics/Process Skills

Duration: 90 minutes Description: This lesson was designed to help students understand the concepts of two different kinds of word problems in a creative and visual way. I hoped that by practicing word problems and then solving harder ones on the flowers, students might use this strategy when solving problems on a test (to help visualize how to do the problem).

Goals: Mathematics Goal 5.4, 5.8 – Problem Solving

Objectives: The students will:

  • describe things they might see in the spring season
  • describe how a flower grows from a seed
  • review the process of word problems
  • do some simple word problems ~ plant the seed of word problems in their brains
  • get into small groups and work on two different kinds of problem solving strategies
  • present their answers to the class ~ written on seeds ~ planting knowledge
  • create word problems of their own ~ writing them on the stems ~starting the growing process-trade problems with another group and solve ~ recording on the flower ~ final growth
  • display their garden of math on the board


  • Each Student:
  • 1 pencil
  • 1 worksheet
  • 1 creative mind!
  • Per Group:
  • 1 pencil
  • 1 bean
  • 1 stem
  • 1 flower head
  • 4 creative minds!

A. Introduction
1. Re-introduce myself and write my name on the board.

B. Signal for Focusing Attention
1. Tell the students: We are going to review the signal for getting your attention.
2. Let them talk amongst themselves, then do the signal.
3. After they are all quiet, praise them and then go on with the lesson.

C. Introducing Spring
1. Ask the students: What season are we in? (Spring)
2. Ask the students: What do you think of when I say the words spring season? (rain, sun, nice smells, shorts, flowers, things are born)
3. Ask the students: What happens in spring? Do things grow? (yes)
4. Ask the students: How do growing things start growing? (from seeds)

D. Handing out Materials
1. Hand out the beans to each group.
2. Explain how seeds start things growing and how we were going to start the growth of word problems by planting seeds in our heads.
3. Hand out stems and flower heads.
4. Ask the students to hold them to the side.

E. Introducing Word Problems
1. Ask students: What is a word problem? Can you define it for me?
2. Ask students: Can you give me some examples of different types of word problems?
3. Describe Make a diagram and List problems.
4. Ask the students: Do you want to try solving some word problems?
5. Hand out dittos to half the class with list problems and the other half with diagram problems.

Problem 1
I have just gotten a swimming pool in my backyard to have a pool party. The pool is 28 feet long and 18 feet wide. My neighbors have just gotten a dog. It is not kept on a leash, and it likes to run over to my yard and jump in the pool. I need to put a fence around the pool to keep him out. The fence will be 10 feet away from the pool. How many feet of fencing do I need?

Hint: Make a diagram and use addition.

Problem 2
It’s a hot summer day, and I would like some ice cream to cool off. I walk to the store and this is what they have:
Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana
Toppings: Sprinkles, Nuts, Whip Cream, Chocolate Sauce

How many different combinations can I make if I have one flavor and one topping?

Hint: Make a list and count up the answer.

F. Group Work Time
1. Allow students to work in their groups.
2. Rotate classroom and help groups that are struggling.

G. Solving Problems
1. Ask for a volunteer from question #1 (diagram) to show how they got their answer and write it on the board.
2. Show class how answer was achieved.
3. Ask for a volunteer from question #2 (list) to show how they got their answer and write it on the board.
4. Show class how answer was achieved.

H. Create Problems
1. Explain that you want the students to work in their groups and create their own problems.
2. Give them examples of how they can change the numbers and the items in the problems they just did to create their own.
3. Rotate around the room offering help to struggling groups.
4. Have then write the problem on the stem.

I. Trade Problems
1. As groups begin finishing their problems, take their stem and trade it with another group.
2. Make sure it is a group with the other kind of problem.
3. The group will now solve this new problem and write their answer on the flower head.

J. Putting it All Together
Have one person in each group come up and tape their group’s stem and flower above a seed.

1. Ask the students: What have we created on the board? (a Math Garden)
2. Ask the students: Who can tell me how a garden begins growing? (from a seed)
3. Ask students: How did we grow today? (by learning and reviewing word problems)
4. Explain to the students that by planting the seed of practice in their heads, and by working on problems, and continuing to grow in their knowledge of word problems, that they will eventually understand them and be able to produce problems of their own as the finished product, or beautiful flower.