It's easily obvious to me that these slices of paper pizzas are not at all the same but you know what is really hard for me? Resisting the urge to rearrange those little pieces so this child can be 'successful' or get the 'right' answer.
At some point, though, it's their project, and they can only move themselves so far in the short time we have. Sometimes just finishing is a victory.
This paper pizza activity I designed is deceptively simple because in one fell swoop it reinforces the math concepts of sameness, position, geometric shapes, pattern unit, transformation and symmetry. To adult eyes there is nothing to it. For a six or seven year old it is, I assert, the very best kind of challenge.
The activity gets an introduction with project examples and the briefest of instructions, and then the kids go at it. Some might view my approach as flawed or, at the very least, unhelpful. Perhaps, but how does one learn these things? I could talk until I was blue in the face about what they need to do; I could break down the making process into minute individual steps; I could do all the work for them, pointing out the next step every step of the way...and what would they learn?
But at no time do I judge the work in terms of rightness or wrongness. Most of these rising first graders 'got' it. Some did not, but each paper pizza is beautiful, not just because of the bright colors, but because it is a gorgeous snapshot into the how each individual child is thinking, at this particular moment in time. Because no kid is the same as any other kid - and that is something to celebrate!