Number Sense and Computation: Food For Thought

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In this math lesson, learners identify and compare unit costs of given items. Learners use computation skills, problem solving and number sense to find the cost of an ounce of cereal. Learners compare the cost per ounce of a variety of cereals and then speculate as to the reasons for the different prices. Learners utilize similar strategies in determining the price per chip for bags of snacks and make comparisons.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 15 ounce box of cereal with price clearly marked
  • 1 small bag of pretzels with price clearly marked
  • 8 additional cereal boxes with prices marked on them (empty boxes are acceptable)
  • Copies of Activity Sheet: Cost of Cereal
  • Calculators
  • Plastic bags of cereal (3 per group: one bag should have exactly 1 ounce; the second bag should have less than 1 ounce, while the third bag should be more than 1 ounce)
  • Small bags of snacks (potato chips, Doritos, Cheese Puffs, etc.)


  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
    • Number and Operations
      • Decimals
      • Fractions
    • Reasoning and Proof
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Financial Literacy
  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, PBS, 2012

Funding Source:

  • US Department of Education