K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

Important Announcement about Online Courses and LEARN NC.

Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

Learn more

Related pages

  • Observing the water cycle: Initially, students will observe a demonstration of the water cycle and apply the information gained through the demonstration. Then students will measure and graph rainfall for two weeks.
  • One Grain of Rice: One Grain of Rice is a mathematical folktale from India that covers the concept of doubling.
  • Math Fun: We have compiled some of our favorite mathematics instructional resources to help students develop a sense of numbers and how they are used by us everyday. Students will have fun practicing their skills and trying new problem-solving ideas.

Related topics


Please read our disclaimer for lesson plans.


The text of this page is copyright ©2008. See terms of use. Images and other media may be licensed separately; see captions for more information and read the fine print.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • gain an understanding of the importance for order of operations.
  • apply the order of operations to various mathematical problems.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

55 Minutes


  • Loaf of bread
  • Jar of Peanut Butter
  • Jar of Jelly
  • Plastic Knife
  • Paper Plates
  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic Gloves
  • Calculators for special-needs students


  1. Place the following problem on the board (or a similar problem):
    6 + 3 x 8 / 4 - 5
  2. Ask each student to solve (there should be various answers as students find their own way to solve the problem).
  3. Discuss the possible reasons for the differing answers.


  1. Ask students to raise their hand if they know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (PB&J).
  2. Select one of those students to give you step-by-step directions for making a PB&J sandwich. Follow their directions to the letter!

    Student- “Put the peanut butter on the bread.”
    Teacher- Places the jar of peanut butter on the loaf of bread.

  3. Give another student the opportunity to give you directions. Again, follow their directions explicitly!
  4. Continue with this until you have made a PB&J sandwich or you feel that you have demonstrated the point of the activity.
  5. Discuss with the students the importance of established procedure for basic tasks, and point out that math is no different!
  6. Share the “established procedure” for order of operations through the mnemonic device “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” Using the new “rules” re-write the problem from the pre-actvity on the board and ask students to solve it!


Journal Entry:
Give an example from your life where there is a specific order in which you must do something. Discuss why it is important that it be done in a certain order. Finally, tie in why it is important that students know the order of operations.

Supplemental information


If you choose, you may want to give a sandwich to those who helped you “make” the PB&J sandwich. Of course, you need to ensure that no students have a food allergy to peanut butter or the type of jelly that is used.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will model, identify, and compute with whole numbers through 9,999.
    • Objective 1.04: Use basic properties (identity, commutative, associative, order of operations) for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.