Math IS Real Life – July 2014 Edition: around the kitchen with fractions

It’s the first Wednesday of July which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!
A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
If you read my post from Monday, when I linked up with Monday Made It, you already know what my MiRL is for this month.  If you didn’t read that post, let me catch you up! One of my good friends, Marie, and I have talked about making homemade Spanakopita for years.  Recently, before heading home to Cleveland for the summer, we decided that we needed to make this cheesy spinachy goodness for lunch and we dove in! I didn’t go into the details of how we made the spanakopita there because I didn’t want to spoil anything on this post…… Soooo, this post will be a combo Math IS Real Life with lots of extra details to fill in my Monday Made It people! AND if you stick with all the details until the end, there will be a great freebie that will help promote mathematical discourse in your classroom (and can be used at many, many grade levels!)

Here we go!

First, we needed to defrost the spinach and the phyllo dough!  We used our estimation skills to figure out how long it would take and in the mean-time  bought a movie to watch OnDemand  Elapsed time 2 hours!

Once everything was defrosted, the fun began!  First we separately the spinach and used the hand food processor to chop the onions (no crying here!)

Then we crumbled the feta and added it to the spinach.

Next came the onions!

Then the egg mix

Then we combined all that cheesy goodness together and some more math happened!

We melted some butter and started layering the phyllo dough one layer at a time in the 13×9 pan. Spreading the butter reminded me of conversations I have with my kiddos all the time about real world area applications.

Phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter….. compounding layers of area created volume!  What a neat way to show volume to kiddos…. I may have to bring phyllo dough and butter in to show this in a tasty way!

After layering 10 pieces of phyllo and butter, it was time to spread (area) the spinachy goodness over the buttery goodness

Then it was time to layer 10 more pieces of phyllo and buttery goodness!

A little tuck-the-phyllo-in action all around the edges (creating faces of a prism)

And then there were some decisions to be made…. how many servings were we going to slice this into?  Should I score the phyllo in the middle?

Should I try to score the phyllo into thirds?

What about diagnonal scores?

In the end we decided that 4 people would probably be eating this deliciousness, and we wanted to make it look “fancy” (the more scores the prettier the phyllo peels back…) so we cut the spanakopita in half, then each half in half, then we cut half lengthwise (making 8 servings) and then we cut each of those servings in half diagonally.

Next, we used our oven thermometer and knowledge of time to cook the spanakopita until it was golden-y delicious!

Doesn’t that look amazing?!

And ofcourse, we had to try some out!  Yummy!

You stuck around and read my entire blog post!  THANKS!!  You totally deserve a FREEBIE now!!  Yep, you read that right…. I made a freebie on cutting serving sizes.  This can be used at MANY grade levels – just depends on how deep you want to go with it it!  Younger grades will be able to subdivide, middle grades can justify their answers by showing what the area is, upper students may be able to justify their answers using variables to generalize!
Check it out!  Click the picture to go straight to the link!
A HUGE, HUGE thank you to Danielle Westavang at CrayonBox Learning for creating my custom spanakopita clip art!!  I LOVE IT!

Categories: #mirl, computation and estimation, fractional reasoning, geometry and measurement, math is real life, mathematical reasoning, mental math, and number and number sense.


  1. I LOVE this freebie…like L-O-V-E! It’s going to be a great way to get students using great math talk to get the year started–even before we tackle fractions. Thanks for your hard work!

    • 🙂 thanks so much, Meg! That means a ton coming from you! Such a simply activity but so powerful! The amount of math talk you can get out of this one is AMAZING!! Can’t wait to see pics of your kiddos hard at work!!

  2. Definitely making spanakopita some time soon. Haven’t had it in awhile..
    Love the freebie. Will be a nice challenge for my students! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kim! I may need to make somre more soon. It was DELICIOUS… EVEN COLD!!! Can’t wait to hear about yoru students playing with this idea!! Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂

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