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Fun Family Math: Make a Pirate Fruit Salad

This pirate-inspired recipe helps children practice math skills while preparing a delicious snack at home.
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Esta actividad también está disponible en español.

Ahoy, mateys! This pirate-inspired recipe helps children practice math skills while preparing a delicious snack at home. In this activity, we are measuring the height of our treasure chests (which are recycled, by the way), counting and dividing fruit, and of course — eating a yummy fruit salad at the end.

Arrrrrre ye ready?

Different types of fruit
Can your child find their favorite fruits in this photo? | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Learning Goal

This activity will help your child:

  • Count by ones
  • Practice dividing and sorting
  • Share with others
  • Follow instructions

Materials

  • Your child’s favorite fruit. Examples: bananas, strawberries, grapes, peaches, mango, jicama, and blueberries
  • Empty and clean yogurt cups or small plastic containers
  • Markers or crayons
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Assembly

Step 1: Make your treasure chests from your recycled yogurt cups. First, measure the height of each yogurt cup or plastic container on the long edge of the white paper.

Measuring strips of paper for yogurt cups
Measuring strips of paper for yogurt cups. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Step 2: Then, cut a strip of paper that is as wide as the containers are tall. Cut one per container.

Cut strips of paper for treasure chest.
Cut strips of paper for each treasure chest. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Step 3: Draw wooden boards on the strips of paper and color them in, so they look like wood. Add locks and other pirate-like decorations to your “wooden boards” to  keep pirates from swiping your fruit salad “treasure.”

"Wooden boards" with different pirate-inspired designs.
"Wooden boards" with different pirate-inspired decorations. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Step 4: Wrap a strip of “wood” around each plastic container to transform it into a “wooden” treasure chest.

Tape the strips of paper around the yogurt cups.
Tape the strips of paper around the yogurt cups. | Family Math / PBS SoCal

Step 5: Make your delicious fruit salad with your favorite fruits (or even vegetables!). Wash all the fruit going into the salad. Cut each banana into 16 pieces – that’s 10 pieces, plus another 6! Cut each strawberry into 4 pieces – that’s 3 pieces, plus another 1! Cut the peaches into bite­size pieces. If the grapes are large, cut them in half – that’s right down the middle! Place each fruit into its own bowl.

Bonus: Ask your child which fruits are smaller and which are larger. Can they line them up in order by size?

Bowls full of fruit.
Divide your fruit into bowls. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Step 6: Now fill your chests with fruity treasure! For each treasure chest, count out: 5 banana slices, 6 strawberry pieces, 7 grapes, 8 peach bites, and 9 blueberries. This helps young children develop one-to-one correspondence as they count, meaning they are matching one number word with one object.

Divide your fruit into your treasure chests.
Divide your fruit into your treasure chests. | Henry Cram / Family Math / PBS SoCal

Step 7: Share your treasure! Hand one treasure chest to each member of the household. Then, dig in! The treasure is yours for the taking! Arrrr!

Bonus: Are there any fruit salad treasure chests left over? How many? Would your child like to share this with a neighbor or friend?

Keep the conversation going

  • Use the extra pieces of fruit (or uneaten bits of treasure) to make fruity patterns. Decide on a pattern – one banana, one strawberry, one banana, one strawberry.
  • Turn the design into a fruit kabob by threading the fruit pieces onto a wooden skewer, plastic straw, or pretzel stick.
  • Start a pattern for your child to finish, and then ask your child to come up with a pattern for you to finish.

Book Suggestions

  • “Big Dog, Little Dog,” by P.D. Eastman
  • “Feast for 10,” by Cathryn Falwell
  • “Quack and Count,” by Keith Baker
  • “The Chicken Problem,” by Billy Aronson

This activity was inspired by “Peg + Cat: The Pirates’ ‘Great Banana’ Fruit Salad” on PBS LearningMedia

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