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Pigging Out

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GeometryData Analysis and Probability
Location: Unknown

This lesson uses the story of The Three Little Pigs to motivate students to think and reason mathematically in a number of ways. Students develop reasoning skills and identify similarities and differences through the use of Venn Diagram. Spatial reasoning is also emphasized in this lesson.

Ask students to decide what each would use - straw, wood, brick, or a combination of two or all three - to build a house for themselves. Have each child record this decision by marking his or her initials in the region on the Venn diagram that they believe shows this preference on the Pigging Out Activity Sheet.

pdficon Pigging Out Activity Sheet 

On the classroom floor, form three large intersecting loops of yarn to match the Venn Diagram on the activity sheet. Have each child stand inside the loop or loops that he or she believes represents the preference stated above. Discuss the preferences of the class as a whole.

1110 overhead Pigging Out: Venn Diagram 

Use the Pigging Out: Venn Diagram overhead transparency = to tabulate the results by putting each child's initials in the appropriate place.

1171 venn 3 pigs lrg

Each child should then compare the location marked on the page with the place he or she was standing in the yarn circles. Discuss what it means to have a child in each of the seven regions. Where would a child stand who chooses none of the three materials? [Outside the three circles.]

For an experience involving estimation and graphing, ask students to recall that the wolf "huffed and puffed" a number of times in the story. Have each student cut, fold, and tape the house pattern on the Pigging Out Activity Sheet.

Ask the students to estimate how far they can blow the house across the floor. Have groups of four record estimates and then conduct the experiment. What would happen if these houses were made with different materials, such as construction paper, newspaper, or interlocking blocks?

To reinforce measurement and map skills, have students create a map within the boundary on the second page of the Pigging Out Activity Sheet. Next they mark with an "sh," "wh," and "bh" - for straw house, wood house, and brick house, respectively - where they think the pigs in the story built their houses. They should also indicate with a "w" where they think the wolf might have lived. Identify a standard unit of measure, such as a centimeter cube, with which to measure distances on the map.

1171 my map1171 partner's map

Have pairs of students compare their measurements and their maps to explore similarities and differences. For example, two students with similar-looking maps would have similar distances between houses, but it is possible that two students with similar distances between houses may have very different-looking maps. Ask pairs of children to sit back-to-back and have one child describe his or her map while the other student attempts to draw it next to his or her map on the second page of the Pigging Out Activity Sheet. Have students answer the questions on the activity sheet and discuss their results with the class.


Heather L. Giancola, Sylvia P. Maxson, and Virginia Usnick (1996). A Tale of Two Stories. Teaching Children Mathematics. Vol. 3, No. 1, (pp. 28-33)


  1. Have students compare the original story of the Three Little Pigs to other versions. Is it true that various versions of a particular story often maintain the same characters but differ in their plots? What components must a story contain to be considered a version of the Three Little Pigs story?
  2. Create several categories into which numbers can be classified, such as being even, prime, fractions, and whole. Challenge students to think of numbers that may be an element of one set but not of another as well as numbers that will fall into multiple categories. This is a good application of Venn Diagrams.
Data Analysis and Probability

If the Shoe Fits...

Students use classification skills to compare and contrast versions of the Cinderella story. Students identify similarities and differences between two versions. In addition, they use attributes to classify and sort information.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Develop reasoning skills through the use of Venn diagrams.
  • Identify similarities and differences.
  • Draw and interpret a simple map.
  • Measure distances using concrete objects.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Describe location and movement using common language and geometric vocabulary.
  • Build and draw geometric objects.
  • Create and describe mental images of objects, patterns, and paths.
  • Collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments.
  • Propose and justify conclusions and predictions that are based on data and design studies to further investigate the conclusions or predictions.