No Series: How Many Peas Fill the Classroom?


Common core State Standards

  • Math:  Math
  • 5:  Grade 5
  • MD:  Measurement & Data
  • C:  Geometric measurement: understand concepts of volume
  • 4: 
    Measure volumes by counting unit cubes, using cubic cm, cubic in, cubic ft, and improvised units.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

How Many Peas Fill the Classroom?

Lesson Objective: Students estimate and measure peas and room size to learn about volume
Grades 6-8 / Math / Measurement


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. Why is it important for students to design a plan before beginning?
  2. What different measuring approaches did students use?
  3. Ms. Slusar shares that accuracy is not a goal of this activity. What could this particular project teach us about accuracy?


  • Private message to John Golden
I love the 5 minute planning time. And I like the imprecise nature of the garbanzos. Calculate the volume of the peas precisely and you overestimate, approximate them as a cuboid and you underestimate. What are we to do? I'd want to add a follow up on how to verify, since we can't fill the room with chick peas.
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  • Private message to Sharon Franke
This looks like a fun lesson! I like Mary's idea too, of using dice, to allow for a more precise answer. Otherwise it would be a great conversation, like you said that we've estimated a lot so we could be quite off. I think the planning/brainstorming stage was a good idea so students could gather their thoughts. The students were very engaged and measuring using different tools. I'd be curious to know, did you discuss whole class or did you show any other groups that measured using a different unit? Thanks for the video share!
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  • Private message to Mary McGinley
Great lesson idea! I'll use this lesson using connecting cubes or dice to allow for even more precision!
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  • Private message to Leonard Beachy
This exercise could be expanded to continue the discussion of accuracy by having groups work on various size containers with the ultimate goal of comparing to the size of the classroom. The containers would need lids to represent the ceiling and it would be interesting to see when sample size does not change significantly. This could be related to statistical sample size used in industry to evaluate a process or quantity.
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  • Private message to Kao Ethan
It's so cool!!!!!!!awesome!!!!!thanks for sharing such good experimental video!!!
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External Resource Materials


  • Summary

    This fun and active math lesson for Key Stage 3 students involves measuring, estimating and calculating, and contains a great


    This fun and active math lesson for Key Stage 3 students involves measuring, estimating and calculating, and contains a great lesson idea for use in lesson planning.
    Math teacher Katie Slusar asks her Year 7 class at Comberton Village College to work out how many chickpeas might fit into their classroom.
    During this exercise in mathematical modeling, the pupils plan how to approach the task and choose the equipment they need.
    They start measuring and calculating, and make appropriate estimates and assumptions as they go, involving large and small numbers and different units of measurement.
    Although the answers her pupils get are unlikely to be accurate, this is a fun and effective lesson idea that tackles some tricky mathematical concepts.


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