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Place Value Fun - Making Wonka Bars

As a teacher of 8 and 9 year olds, I've found that if I can relate learning to food (specifically candy) the kids tend to get excited about it and might even retain something!  
One simple idea for making place value a little more hands-on is spending some time making Wonka Bars during math class.  All you need is three different colors of construction paper, some poor volunteer with an hour to cut out a frightening amount of one inch squares, a willingness to pretend you are Willy Wonka, and a whistle

You can get as into the Willy Wonka mode as you'd like.  I typically tell students they're Oompa Loompas, they're working in my factory, they must call me Willy (our job is funny so often!), they must stop when they hear my whistle, they may sing Wonka songs or work as an oompa loompa team to create caramels, bars, and boxes, but they may not talk about any personal loompa business.  

We talk about rules for packaging (see the very simple caramel packaging sheet) and off they go.  If you want some extra pizzazz, download some Wonka music or a Youtube video.  I love the Danny Elfman stuff (I'm quite partial to Danny and Tim Burton), but if you want the old school classic stuff that's your prerogative.

Here are the finished products.           
Caramel = 1
Bar = 10
Box = 100
1 box, 2 bars, 1 caramel = 121 total caramels
After you have students play around making numbers with the Wonka bars, then have them compare and contrast Wonka Bars and Base-10 Blocks.

Use these for addition and subtraction too!  I especially like to cut up the boxes and bars when showing students why we "borrow" and regroup.

Hope you can use this idea.  My students have really enjoyed it in the past!

If you want even more Wonka fun, check out my Wonka Week Golden Tickets for free here.  I love to use these at the end of the year or anytime you need something fun and different to mix up your management system for a week or two.

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  1. Hi Katie! This looks like such a fun activity! I LOVE the idea! Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great week!


  2. What a cute idea!!! We just found you and are now following. We would love it if you stopped by sometime!

  3. We did this activity today in my first grade & the kids LOVED it !!! Thank you so much for the idea & I just posted about on my blog tonight. I credited you with the genius idea, of course! :)


    1. I'm so glad you liked it! I saw all the cute pictures on your blog of the activity. I love how you modified it for first graders! Gotta love Youtube too!
      Katie :)