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Find a Pattern with “One Grain of Rice” Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-PAT0200
Submitted by: Patricia Engel
Email: tengel@home.com
School/University/Affiliation: Middle River Middle School, Baltimore, Maryland Date: October 2, 2000

Grade Level: 6


  • Mathematics/Patterns
  • Language Arts/Literature/Children’s Literature

Duration: 45 minutes Description: Students use the problem solving strategy of find a pattern to predict the number of grains of rice Rani (from One Grain of Rice ) will receive after 30 days. Students use a table to assist with making predictions.


  • Apply guess and check, find a pattern, draw a diagram, and other problem solving strategies to develop inductive and deductive thinking.
  • Students will algebraically represent, model, analyze, and solve mathematical and real world problems involving patterns and functional relationships.
  • Objectives:

  • Students will apply find a pattern and make-a-table strategies in order to solve problems.
  • Students will be able to record data from an Indian folktale.
  • Students will explore, describe, and extend patterns.
  • Students will be able to make a generalization about a pattern.
  • Teacher Materials:

    • One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
    • overhead projector with markers
    • transparency of table worksheet
    • rice – a small handful

    Student Materials:

    • pencils
    • calculators – one for each student or pair of students
    • Table Worksheet
    • Table Worksheet in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

      Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.

    Vocabulary: patterns, table
    Story Vocabulary: Rani – girl’s name in the story, raja – Indian king, famine – extreme lack of something Procedure:
    Explain the objectives of the lesson, and then begin reading One Grain of Rice . [Brief summary of story: During a famine, Rani outsmarts the raja by asking him to give her one grain of rice to be doubled every day, for 30 days.]

    Discuss book vocabulary as it comes up in the reading. Show one grain of rice on the overhead, then two, four, and eight… Stop at the ninth day in the story. Revisit the objective by asking, What are we doing today and how? [I have a Problem Solving Guidelines poster in my room: Understand, Plan, Solve, Look Back. You can use something similar to help students think through a problem.]

    Ask students, What is a pattern? (A list that occurs in some predictable way.) Pass out the table worksheets and have students fill in the table, stopping at the ninth day. Ask students to share any patterns that they notice. Most likely, students will say that the pattern doubles every day. Students will predict how many grains of rice Rani will receive in all after the 30th day. In pairs, students will complete the rest of the table. (Calculators will be needed, as numbers get into the millions.) As students are working, ask if anyone can find an easier way to calculate the next day’s rice count without adding. (Usually someone notices that you can multiply by 2.) Tell students to complete the table using this new pattern. (Students should fill in the table faster now.) After the tables are completed, ask for students’ predictions for the number of grains of rice on the 30th day. Finish reading the story to see if students’ calculations were correct. As you read the story, students should check their answers with the story to make sure that they calculated correctly.

    Assessment: Independently, students will answer the following questions:
    1. Find out how many grains of rice Rani received in all. Explain how you got your answer. (1,073,741,823 –  more than 1 billion grains of rice) 
    2. What do you notice about the grains of rice received each day? Describe the pattern you see in the table. (doubles or times 2)

    Special Comments: I used grains of rice as a behavior management strategy. If students were on task, participating…they earned a grain of rice. Pairs of students needed to earn 10 grains by the end of class to be winners. The prize is up to you.