Today I read the class the math picture book The Lion's Share. This is a great math story but one of my favourite mathy authors, Matthew McElligott.

Today we read the first half of the story. The Lion King invites several animal friends to a dinner party and all but the lovely ant behave with poor manners. When the Lion serves a cake for dessert, the elephant takes half of the cake and then each animal follows by taking half of what is left. In the end, the ant is left with a very tiny piece and is unable to share the last piece of cake with the lion and it just falls apart into crumbs. The ant is horrified and offers to make another cake for the Lion and bring it the next day.

As I read the story the first time, most of the students saw what was happening. For the second read, I held up a piece of square pink paper (8.5 by 8.5) and folded it in half and drew a line to show the half of the cake that the elephant ate. I then folded the remaining half in half (now the whole is in quarters). After a few more folds, it was very evident how small the pieces were getting. The students could really "see" it now. I went back and to my paper cake and asked how much of the original cake each animal got and we began to label the first two pieces (1/2, 1/4) and asked the students what fraction came next. One girl's hand shot up right away and she said 1/8 very confidently. I asked her how she knew this so quickly and she said, "Well, I was thinking that it was like the fraction kit we made!". Oh my gosh, I did a little fraction happy dance!

After this, I asked students what they noticed. They said that the pieces were getting smaller but the numbers were getting bigger. I clarified what they meant by saying, "Do you mean the denominators are getting larger?" to which they agreed!

The students were then each given their own paper cake and they were asked

to fold and label each piece of the cake with the fraction of the whole it represented. We talked about how a half of something can be a different size or amount depending on the size of the whole. I asked them whether they would like half of the whole cake or half of the piece that the hippo got and they all seemed to get this concept.

Many of the students added the names of the animals to show what size that animal's piece of cake was!

Some students wanted to "decorate" their cakes too and added icing borders and sprinkles!

We'll be reading the second half of this story later this week and I'm hoping for some mathematical connections ;)