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Beverage Sharing and Serving

  • Lesson
  • 1
  • 2
Number and Operations
Location: Unknown

Students determine, using a nonstandard cup or plastic drinking container, the minimum amount of fruit drink needed to serve class members.

Prior to using this lesson, students should have had some experience pouring liquids from one container into another. They should also have developed some understanding of measurement using non‑standard units.

Tell students they will be planning a class event in which food and beverages will be shared. Students will need to determine how much beverage will be needed. Pose the following questions to students:

What should be the amount of ready-to-serve beverage that makes up one serving?

How can the beverage be shared so that each student receives the same amount?

Assign students to groups of 2-3 each, and tell students their group will be referred to as a "committee." Assign each committee a number (i.e. Committee #1, Committee #2, Committee #3, and so on.)

Students should estimate and record the following information in the "Estimation" column of the Beverage Sharing and Serving Activity Sheet:

  • How many servings can be poured from one container of beverage?
  • How many students will need to be served?
  • How many containers of the beverage will be needed to serve those students?

Note these three bullets correspond to the first three rows of the table.

pdficon  Beverage Sharing and Serving Activity Sheet

Using water to represent the beverage, have the students pour from the container and record this new set of answers for the questions under the column "Water Practice" in the table.

By using water, practice pouring or ladling to measure the required amount of beverage, a serving, into a drinking cup.

Students can answer questions such as the following:

  • Will all the beverage from all opened containers be needed to serve the class? If not, how many servings will remain in the container? Estimate answers.
  • What should be done with the leftover amount?
  • Record your answers and give them to your teacher.

Finally allow students to enjoy the beverages. Ask the class to discuss and decide:

  • the day and time this beverage break will occur;
  • from where in the room the beverage will be served;
  • who will be responsible for opening the beverage containers, pouring beverage from original containers into pitchers or punch bowl, arranging proper number of drinking cups, ladling or pouring beverage into cups, cleaning up after the activity, disposing of leftover beverage, and other related duties.
Students should keep track of the actual beverage servings, and they should record this information in the "Actual Servings" column of the activity sheet.

To conclude the lesson, have each committee discuss and compare differences between and among numbers in the three columns of their charts. Ask students how close their estimates were to the actual serving. Was any committee very close in its estimates? If so, that committee can share their results.


Brumfield, Emalou and John Firkins. "Ideas." Arithmetic Teacher 41 (February 1994): 309-316.

  • Ready-to-serve beverage, in such a quantity that approximate six-ounce portions can be served to each student  
  • Beverage Sharing and Serving Activity Sheet 
  • Empty beverage container  
  • Several cups or plastic drinking containers of different capacities  
  • Water  
  • A dumping bowl for the water  
  • Paper towels 


  1. Reconstituting frozen concentrate will require proper measurement and mixing of water with concentrate. Fill in the second table (Extension 1) on the Beverage Sharing and Serving Activity Sheet. Use several different types of juice.
  2. Comparative shopping for the beverage, cups, and napkins could be added to the activity. Use the table for Extension 2 on the Beverage Sharing and Serving Activity Sheet.
  3. Once students have paid for beverages, they may be interested in making a little profit. A teacher-led discussion can consider adding a few cents to the price of each serving to develop a profit-making business, if students can interest enough friends and acquaintances to become their customers. Use the table for Extension 3 on the Beverage Sharing and Serving Activity Sheet.
  4. In what other situations might some or all of this activity help us plan and organize our other work?
  5. Move on to the next lesson, A Brownie Bake.

Teacher Reflection 

  • How close were the committees' estimates? What other experiences do my students need involving estimation?
  • What other experiences do my students need involving measuring with nonstandard units?
  • Did everyone in class get the correct serving size? If not, why not?
  • Should we repeat this activity in the future? Or repeat only part of it? Why? Should we change any part of the activity the next time?

A Brownie Bake

Students determine the amount of each ingredient needed to make brownies, and then they figure out how to divide the brownies evenly among their classmates. This lesson helps students reinforce their measurement skills in a practical situation.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Utilize problem solving skills, measuring techniques, and food preparation experiences to practice various math concepts.
  • Determine, using a nonstandard cup or plastic drinking container, the minimum amount of fruit drink needed to serve class members.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Recognize equivalent representations for the same number and generate them by decomposing and composing numbers.
  • Understand various meanings of multiplication and division.