Monday, March 26, 2012

Unit Rates - Tootsie Roll Paper Chain Activity

In 2010 I found an article in the Lincoln Journal Star about a student that was trying to break the world record for the longest tootsie roll paper chain.  His goal was 15 miles.  After I read the article, it made me wonder what it would take to accomplish this goal.  How long would it take?  How many tootsie rolls would it take?  How much money would he need?  Then, I made a worksheet that asked those questions and many more, but the questions were set up so that students had to solve for unit rates.

Worksheet example.

Tootsie Roll

After reading the article as a class and completing the worksheet, I handed out tootsie rolls for students to eat.  Immediately, students started stapling wrappers to make their own Tootsie Roll paper chain.  After 3 years of doing the activity in class and collecting wrappers from students and my family, I have a pile that I stuff away and take out during this unit.  This year my students want to measure the chain, which we still need to do, but knowing that they want to bring in wrappers from home lets me know this activity is fun and goes beyond just learning math.

Stapling the wrappers.

The pile is about twice the size after stapling the wrappers from the zip-lock baggies.

Quick measure of what was stapled at the end of one class period.

15 minutes worth of stapling.

I will add more pictures when we measure the entire chain.  This is a small section.


The mess before we organized it to measure it all out!

The students used a meter stick to measure and mark the wall with tape.

Some students were in charge of holding down the wrappers, while others went back and forth.

Fixing with staples, there were a few tears!

Math work on the board
After going through all the math and converting into inches and feet, we found that the chain was 659.4 inches or 54.95 feet!  Now I need to figure out a way to store all the wrappers!


  1. Kristin: I teach an advanced 7th grade class and am doing Unit Rates later in the week. I loved this activity that you posted and was hoping you wouldn't mind sending me the worksheets.

    1. Kristin, I added a link through Scribd to the same post. If you click on the link you should be able to download it from the website. If this doesn't work, let me know and I'll get your e-mail address and e-mail you the documents.

      Thanks for looking :)


Include your name before your comment.