A Whole Lot of Grain to Share

Scripture: Genesis 39-41

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review how Joseph helped the Egyptians save enough grain during the years of plenty that they had enough to share during the years of famine.
  • Students will learn the basic fractions such as halves, fourths and eighths.

Guiding Question:

  • How can we use fractions to help us share just one of something with more than one person?


Materials: Graham crackers

Procedure: Review the story of Joseph saving enough grain during the years of plenty so that the Egyptians had enough to share during the years of famine. Ask students what grain is used for. Explain that it was used to make bread. Show students graham crackers that will be used to symbolize the bread made from grain. (Graham crackers are good to use because they have dotted lines to help students break it evenly and see the visual fractions. However, any bread can be used.)

Ask students how you can share your one cracker with a friend. If they say to break it, ask them if the size of the parts matter. Break the cracker unevenly and hand it to a student. They will probably insist that it is not fair. Give the student another whole cracker and have them show you where to break it evenly. Explain that in fractions, all of the parts must be equal. Show them other examples of unequal or equal parts and ask them if it is an equal part fraction. For younger students keep the focus on equal parts.

More advanced students can explore fractions when the numerator is not 1. Give each student a graham cracker. Tell them to show you how to share it with different numbers of people. Tell them to break their crackers into eighths and then distribute the parts equally with different numbers of people (such as 4 people). How many parts does each person get?

Show students how to write the fraction. Explain that Egyptians invented a system for writing fractions and we still use a similar system today even though our numbers are different. (Interesting Note: Egyptians expressed fractions as addition problems in which the numerator was always one, but students to not need to know this.)

Explain that the total number of parts goes below the line. Students can remember this because it is usually a bigger number. You do not want the bottom to be bigger than the top or else it will be too heavy and fall over! The smaller number goes on top. Let students explore sharing their crackers with different numbers of people and writing the fractions.

Additional Questions:

  • When would we need to use fractions in life? Imagine if Egyptians had not invented fractions.
  • What are some things that we might share with others by using fractions?

Supplemental Activity: More advanced students can explore equivalencies. Have students show different ways of writing one half using 8 pieces (4/8), 4 pieces (2/4), etc. Let them record these equivalencies by drawing them and shading the equivalent parts. The same area will be shaded because they are equal. You can ask questions such as: How can I share 8 pieces with 2 people? How much does each person get? (1/2 or 4/8). You may want to provide templates of the wholes for them to shade. Otherwise, they may not draw their shapes the same size and the fractional parts will therefore not be equivalent.

Written by: Savannah Negas