Authentic Problems: Tea Party


This unit for Foundation is one of a set of ten units in the special topic “Mathematical Inquiry into Authentic Problems”. Each of these units is designed around the 4D Guided Inquiry Model, and highlights the importance of students providing mathematical evidence. The lessons adopt a carefully designed pedagogy to help students master content knowledge whilst learning about the process of inquiry. 

The inquiry is stimulated by a question: What do we need for a tea party?  Students plan a tea party for a small group, providing a purposeful context for counting. In Foundation year, students are developing confidence in using the language of counting and connecting number names, numerals and quantities using one-to-one correspondence. The tasks in this inquiry give the teacher insight into these processes and opportunity for diagnostic interactions. Students present their tea party plan to the teacher before holding their party. An assessment opportunity is included.

Read the Teachers' Guide  (also included in the download) before using this resource. 


Lesson 1: Discover Phase

Students are introduced to the context of having a tea party (or other familiar event with food), and consider the items (e.g. plates) that might be on the table. Students then draw themselves at the table with other people, and label the items on the table. They count the people and items. This context offers a purpose for students to connect number names, numerals and quantities to 10, presenting the classroom teacher with valuable feedback on the counting process students use.

Lesson 2: Devise Phase

Students make tea party groups and identify the items they wish to include in their own tea party. Each student creates a placemat to represent their setting at a tea party and in small groups, agree on the kinds of items they wish to include. Students count the items on their placemats and compare these numbers to those of others in their group.

Lesson 3: Develop Phase

Students use their placemats from the previous lesson to determine how many of each item they will need for each guest at their tea party. They then see if there are enough items available for the whole class. The develop phase allows the students to use this information in preparation for the big event. There are repeated opportunities to count and recount and for students to check their counts with peers and the teacher.

Lesson 4: Defend Phase

Students present their plans for a tea party to the teacher and class, reasoning about the counts of different items and the total number of items they require. They test their plans by setting up the tea party, and compare their plans to other students’ plans. Students enjoy their tea party and reflect on the effectiveness of their plans and on how they used counting to plan a tea party for their friends.