Teach proportions to middle school students using real-world tools such as food coloring and exercises involving simple recipes. These activities engage students through hands-on, multi-sensory learning.
A simple exercise demonstrating proportions can be done using glass beakers, water and food coloring. Have students figure out how much food coloring needs to be added to different amounts of water to achieve various color results. For example, students could be shown a beaker containing 1 cup of purple water. If the students are told that the water contained six drops of blue food coloring and four drops of red food coloring, they can be asked to determine how many drops of food coloring need to be added to 1/2 cup of water to obtain the same color results.
A similar demonstration can be done through a class project to make a “perfect” recipe for lemonade. Students can make and taste test various recipes using different proportions of water, lemon juice and sugar and then vote for their favorite combination. Lemonade can also be used in an activity similar to the food color experiment. Challenge students to match the flavor of the original recipe while making a smaller amount by modifying the recipe to keep the proportions the same.