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Set the Table

Introduce the history and etiquette of silverware and place settings. Invite students to make creative table settings on dry-erase boards to practice measurement skills!

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. In the 1700s colonial villages often had their own silversmiths, people who crafted items from silver, including forks, knives, spoons, plates, and cups. Today we purchase our tableware in a store, but even our everyday items have been designed by modern artists and craftsmen in design studios somewhere in our modern world.
    2. Provide sample silverware, plates, and cups for students to carefully handle and describe. Ask children what they notice about each item they handle. Talk about the shape, the number of tines on the fork, and the designs of each item. Model vocabulary for students to use when describing what they see.
    3. Show children how to set a place at a table. Place the fork to the left of the plate. Place the knife to the right with the spoon to the right of the knife. Place a cup just beyond the knife. Fold a napkin and place it under the fork.
    4. Invite students to use Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons to draw their own place setting on an individual dry-erase board. Encourage students to make their place settings unique and colorful.
    5. Provide students with rulers and ribbon, string or yarn. Challenge students to measure the items they created using these tools – finding as many measurements as they can! Ask students which items they will measure and how they will measure them. Provide paper and colored pencils for students to record their measurements.
    6. Students might be encouraged to start by measuring the lengths of the fork, knife and spoon. Allow students to explore different ways to measure the items they have created. Model vocabulary to help them describe the measurements, such as “diameter” when measuring across a plate and “circumference” when measuring around a cup. Students might measure the width of the spoon at its widest point and the length of one fork tine. If students don’t independently figure out how to use the ribbon or string to measure around round objects, model this strategy for them to keep the measuring fun going.
  • Standards

    LA: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

    LA: Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

    MATH: Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units.

    MATH: Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.

    MATH: Represent and interpret data.

    MATH: Reason with shapes and their attributes.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns

    SS: Describe how we depend upon workers with specialized jobs and the ways in which they contribute to the productions and exchange of goods and services.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

  • Adaptations

    Before students begin the measurement challenge, take a two-minute journaling break. Provide children with math journals or lined paper and colored pencils. Ask children to respond to the prompt: “What questions do I have before I begin?” Resist the temptation to answer their questions. Instead allow them to explore materials and invent their own measurement strategies while taking the challenge. At the end of the lesson, ask them to look back at their questions. Which were they able to answer? Which questions remain to explore? Gather these questions to use in a future lesson.

    Share the book Counting on Frank by Rod Clement. Read the story as aloud or gather enough copies for a partner reading experience. Talk about the words Frank uses in the book to describe the things he is measuring. As you read, ask children to write down math vocabulary words on individual dry-erase boards using dry-erase crayons. Talk about the words they collected after reading the story.

    Simplify this activity by just concentrating on spoons. Observe and describe different kinds of spoons then invite children to use dry-erase crayons to draw a set of spoons of different sizes and shapes on dry-erase boards. Provide measuring materials to find the length of each spoon.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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