Tuesday, April 26 is not only Hug a Friend Day, it's also National Pretzel Day. So let your students make pretzels (or toast frozen ones) and share a fun snack together as they learn about tally charts and graphs.

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Now let's make some pretzels and try some edible math. Have your students wash their hands. Give each student a small sheet of parchment paper or foil and a small piece of bread dough (you can use refrigerated bread or biscuit dough or make your own). Provide cookie sheets, an oven or toaster oven, oven mitt, kosher salt, and a permanent marker. Also provide gluten-free dough or pretzels for students who have gluten allergies.

Let each student initial one corner of his parchment paper or foil sheet. Have him roll the dough into a thin snake shape. Then hold one end of dough in each hand and place it on the parchment paper or foil as if to form an oval. Twist the ends together as shown to form a pretzel shape as shown:

Some students may prefer to leave their pretzels as sticks or to give them a curved look. Others may want to create their own unique design (heart, face, initial, etc.). Sprinkle the pretzels with salt. Give each student a wet wipe to clean up messy hands and also to wipe down the work space. After shaping the pretzels, point out that the pretzel ends look a bit like arms reaching up to give yourself a hug. Let your students demonstrate crossing their arms to give themselves a hug.

Place the pretzels in a 350-400 degree oven (or toaster oven) for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and then serve. Hand out napkins. (You could also provide assorted mustards for dipping or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top, and water or juice to drink. Or bring melted chocolate, vanilla yogurt and mini pretzel twists to create covered pretzels. These are a bit more messy. Make sure none of your students have allergies to the ingredients.) If you like, bring hard stick and twist pretzels and do a taste test to see which type of pretzels your class prefers. Create a class tally chart to keep track of how many students prefer hard vs. soft pretzels. You could also show stick vs. twist preferences. Depending on which types of graphs your class is studying, have each student make a bar graph, a picture graph or a circle graph showing the class preferences for pretzels. Here's a Tally chart we created:

Have your students create their graphs using pencil and paper. Once you check them for accuracy, let the students get creative and use an online charting or graphing website to create a 3-D look and add color and text to the graph. The online graphs can be printed, emailed, or embedded on your class website. Here's a bar graph created from ChartGo.com:

Create your own chart or graph

The National Center for Education Statistics also has some free charts and graphs for students. This pie graph (from http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/) uses the same data as our bar graph above:

While your students enjoy the pretzels, talk about how math is used in our everyday lives —financial, measurements (length, distance, volume, temperature), computing, modifying recipes, cooking, listening to music, sports, medicine, carpentry, etc. Students who finish their graphs early can create a poem describing some of the enjoyable ways they (or their parents) use math.

New to Excel Math? Visit our website to learn more and take a look at Free sample lessons: www.excelmath.com.

Looking for help for teaching your students Common Core math? Download samples from our Excel Math Common Core Editions.

Or, if you're from Texas, see how Excel Math is TEKS aligned and helps prepare students for STAAR assessments. View TEKS correlations online.http://www.excelmath.com/downloads/state_stdsTX.html

New to Excel Math? Visit our website to learn more and take a look at Free sample lessons: www.excelmath.com.

Looking for help for teaching your students Common Core math? Download samples from our Excel Math Common Core Editions.

Or, if you're from Texas, see how Excel Math is TEKS aligned and helps prepare students for STAAR assessments. View TEKS correlations online.http://www.excelmath.com/downloads/state_stdsTX.html