Pythagorean Theorem Modeling Activity with Cheez-its

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Divide by Zero
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Divide by Zero


When it comes to Pythagorean Theorem, most kids are able to memorize the equation, but many don’t understand what it really means. This edible, engaging, hands-on activity is designed to help kids grasp the relationship expressed by the equation so they can develop the flexibility to apply the concept in a variety of contexts. It works well with learners of all levels and can be used as an introduction, review, or intervention lesson.

For this activity, you will need a copy of the handout (sized for 11”x17” paper) and 25 Cheez-it crackers for each student. The handout reviews some basic vocabulary and concepts related to Pythagorean Theorem, then provides students with step-by-step instructions for building a model of the relationship with their Cheez-its. After using their Cheez-its to cover the area of the squares created by each leg of the right triangle, they slide the Cheez-its over to the square of the hypotenuse to discover that its area is exactly the same as the area of both of the smaller triangles combined. At the end of the activity, there is a space for students to use their own words to describe the relationship they discovered through the activity. I usually allow my kids to eat their Cheez-its after they have shared their writing aloud with the class.

If you don’t want to use Cheez-its, any 1” squares will do, but I really think the food-based aspect of this lesson is what has made it a year-after-year hit in my classroom. I hope your students enjoy this “cheesy proof” as much as mine have.

Included in this download:

- Student Handout PDF (sized for 11" x 17" paper)
- Notes to Teacher
- Key

I look forward to hearing your feedback! Please share your stories of how you used this activity in your classroom and how it went over with your students.

For more highly-engaging practice on Pythagorean Theorem concepts and applications, check out my PowerPoint koosh ball game, Pythagorean Pow.

Thanks so much!

CCSS: 8.G.B.6 - Explain a proof of Pythagorean Theorem and its converse.

TEKS: 8.7C - Use pictures or models to demonstrate Pythagorean Theorem.

***Please note that the student handout MUST be printed on 11" x 17" paper, otherwise there will not be enough space to accommodate the Cheez-it model. Also, I have only ever used the original flavor Cheez-its. Other flavors may work, but since I have never measured them, I cannot guaranteed that they will fit.***
Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
30 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Explain a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse.


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