To quote Dan Meyer in his recent post Teaching WCYDWT: Learning – “The fact is that I don’t find ideas for curriculum. They find me.”

I can’t agree more.

Here’s what happened this week: My year 9’s have been working on Perimeter and Area. Lots of different abilities. Lots of text book exercises. Teacher not too happy. Bored and knowing that he was **not** catering for mixed abilities.

Then Tuesday I walked into my kitchen, went to the fridge, and noticed an old take away Bento Box sitting on top. Can’t even remember why I kept it. Took it down, opened it up and saw this:

What a wonderful array of shapes! So * what could you do with this* Mr T?

1. **Idea 1**: Get the students to measure the shapes and work out their areas. Perhaps find what % of the area of the box is taken up?

YUK! I’ve just come up with a typical text book question. More routine skills practice.

2. **Idea 2**: The chopsticks rest measures 2cm across. Use this measurement to “scale” the photo. Then dimension it and continue on with idea 1.

STILL YUK! All I’ve done is add another skill to be practiced. So what now? Put the box in the recycle bin and forget about it?

3. **Idea 3** came to me in the shower Wednesday morning (great place for creative thinking while in alpha mode). Why not get the students to design their own Bento Box? Creating is a higher order skill right?

Maybe not as brilliant as Dan Meyer (whoops I tell my students not to compare themselves with others), but still it has potential.

So Wednesday night I sat down at my over-worked laptop and whipped up an assignment sheet. Add a title in Samarai font from fontspace. Add a couple of images from Wikimedia Commons. Hmm – a border would be good.

I then remembered that my friend Mario Letizia served great Bento Boxes at his great restaurant in Shepparton. Read a review here. So I added his name and restaurant to give the task a local flavour (please excuse the pun).

I decided to put 3 constraints on the students:

** Exactly 7 compartments, at least 4 different shapes, and the total area of the 7 compartments to be exactly 400 sq. cm.**

I picked 400 because I knew a full scale drawing would fit on an A4 sheet.

**Then came THURSDAY’S lessons!**

**Stay tuned for my next post on how this activity “played out” in the classroom.**

I will be interesting to see how your plan goes. To go real Dan Meyer on you (not that I am an expert), but you could have also tried just showing the bento box to your students and asking them what they see. Kind of like asking them how long a container will take to fill without providing any other info ☺. Perhaps you can get enough disposable containers to give one to each student and see what they do with it. I bet they would come close to what you planned, but they may also come up with something different and/or better! One other comment: it might be interesting to do a bit of cross-discipline education – that is, giving some background on what a bento box is, what culture it comes from, why, etc.