I love open ended problem solving tasks like this one. It has real life connections (gardening) that will keep students engaged while solving it. It is not a solve a word problem and be done type of task. It has multiple steps that require students to persevere and immerse themselves in problem solving. My favorite part of this task is that is open ended so students will be able to attack it from where ever they are at. Students will naturally use different strategies to solve the problem differently depending on math ability. I anticipate this math project to require at least two days of time to complete (I take four days).
This task includes a lot of math, but primarily focuses on area and perimeter at a 3rd grade level (depending on how students solve it). Given the cost of wood (perimeter) and the cost of soil (area), students build a raised rectangular garden bed that stays in a budget. Then, given a price list of plants with information about how much space each plant will occupy in the garden, students make decisions about what to plant in their garden. Students will create a final garden to present to the class with the total cost (wood, soil, and plants). At that point the fun math discussions start as students defend their mathematical garden choices to other students. The class will quickly realize that some students have maximized their budget better than others!
I had 3.MD.8 in mind when creating this task, but there is also some multiplication, division, and addition involved in completing this task.
Solve real world and mathematical problems involving perimeters of polygons, including finding the perimeter given the side lengths, finding an unknown side length, and exhibiting rectangles with the same perimeter and different areas or with the same area and different perimeters.
Please look at the preview to make sure this task will work in your classroom (I hope it will).
Practice problem solving page
Building the Raised Garden Bed main task
Raised Garden Bed Construction Work Space page
2 additional raised garden bed problem solving tasks (use as homework, extension, for early finishers...)
Planting Price Sheet
Final Garden Map
Please feel free to contact me with any feedback or questions! :)