Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Cheerios- Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


In this lesson, students practice measurement of surface area and perimeter with estimation by completing activities using Cheerios breakfast cereal.


The student uses estimation strategies to determine a reasonable estimate of a quantity.

The student uses a wide variety of concrete objects to investigate measurement of length, weight, capacity, area, perimeter, and volume (for example, cubes, grid paper, string, squares).


-1 box of Cheerios (a handful for each student)
-Blank computer paper (1 per student)
-Cheerios Activity Sheets (see associated file)
-Cheerio Rubric
-Index Cards (enough for each child to have one)
-Sentences written on chalkboard/dry erase board
My estimation is ____________.
My actual measurement is ________________.
-1 red square cut from construction paper 9 in. x 9 in.
-1 orange construction paper rectangle 12 in. x 4 in.
-20 blue construction paper squares 1 in. x 1 in.


1.Gather materials for the lesson: Cheerios, pencil, blank computer paper, napkins.
2. Run off Cheerio activity sheet and rubric
3. Cut red, orange, and blue squares from construction paper.
4. Put tape on the back of the blue squares so they stick when you fill in surface area and perimeter.


Note: This is an introductory lesson for surface area and perimeter, and a review of estimation. Area and perimeter are the only part of the standard covered in this lesson. (not length, weight, capicity, or volume)

1. Begin the lesson by showing a box of Cheerios and asking: Who likes Cheerios? What do you do with Cheerios? Well today we are going to use Cheerios a little differently. We are going to use them to measure the surface area and perimeter of different objects. (Make sure to tell the students that they will get to nibble on the Cheerios as they do this activity.)
2. Tell students: First of all, let me tell you what surface area is. Surface area refers to the amount of surface covered by a figure or object. It is measuring the inside of an object. Today we are going to measure with non-standard units and later with standard units. For example, look at my red square. Letís estimate how many of these blue units it will take to fill in the surface of my square? Fill in the sentence, My Cheerios estimation is_______. (Accept any reasonable answer.) Put the blue units on until they fill the square. It measures exactly ______. Letís do it again, this time with a rectangle. Ask a volunteer to estimate how many units it will take. Ask another volunteer to actually measure the inside of the rectangle. Fill in the estimation and actual measurement sentences on the board.

3. Next introduce perimeter. Tell students: Perimeter measures the distance around an object. Look back at the red square we measured before for surface area. Letís find the perimeter this time. First estimate what you think the perimeter might be. (Write answers on board). Now measure the perimeter of the orange rectangle. What is a good estimation? What is the exact measurement? Write estimation and actual measurement in sentences on the board.

4. Tell students: Now let's practice measuring area and perimeter using the activity sheet. Again who can tell me what surface is? What about perimeter? Go over the directions, tracing your hand and foot then filling it in with Cheerios for surface area and perimeter. Show the index card and talk about how it will be completed. Check for understanding. Pass out Cheerios, napkins, and activity sheet. Give each child a handful of Cheerios (as they nibble you may need to pass out more). Also pass out rubric so students have the correct idea of exactly what the teacher is looking for.

5. Walk around to formatively assess the children as they complete the activity sheet. Respond and give feedback to those who need it.

6. After the activity sheet is completed, encourage students to discuss what they did.


Use completed Cheerio activity charts to formatively assess the studentís ability to:

-use a wide variety of concrete objects to investigate measurement of length
-use estimation strategies to determine a reasonable estimate of a quantity.
A rubric in the attached file includes the criteria for successful performance.


An extension or modification of this lesson would be to go to Beacon Student Web Lessons and practice perimeter. See web link above.

Another extension would to add an entry to a math journal describing the activity on area and perimeter.

Web Links

Web supplement for Cheerios- Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Beacon Student Web Lesson: Adam Ant

Web supplement for Cheerios- Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Beacon Student Web Lesson: Fence Me In

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