Grade K-2, 3-5

Who Gets More than Their Fair Share?

Updated: April 12 2019,

This lesson has students continue to explore a variety of ways to share, particularly when an obvious solution is not apparent.


In this follow-up to “That’s Not Fair!,” students will have a chance to try out some new ways of sharing and see how each one satisfies or doesn’t satisfy the members of the class.

How do people decide the best way to share things? If you have to divide things up, who should decide how to do it? Today students will identify some common methods of making decisions about the distribution of goods. Work with your class to discuss and describe different decisions you could make decisions about sharing. Discuss what’s good and bad about each way of sharing. Then find out what everyone thinks of the different ideas your class comes up with by taking a survey.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and describe various methods of distributing goods or services.
  • Recognize the benefits and disadvantages to each method.
  • Demonstrate understanding that decisions about sharing can’t always satisfy everyone.

Resource List

Teacher Materials:

  • A special snack (for example pretzels, small cookies, M&Ms) packaged in sets too large to be divided evenly among students in their small groups.

Student Materials:


Activity 1

Group discussion. In the activity “That’s Not Fair” how did we decide who should get which crayons? What was hard about it? What was easy? Did we all agree on the solutions? Were there different ways to share the crayons? Which solutions worked the best? Were any methods of distribution more fair than others? Take turns discussing your ideas about other ways in which goods and services might be distributed.

[Note to teachers: In this session, you’ll want to guide discussion toward some key approaches to problems of distribution, including the following:

  • Command: For example: The teacher or some other authority decides how things will be distributed.
  • Equal shares: For example: everyone gets only one item and extras are sent back or shared with other classes.
  • Contests: For example: play a game (like Paper, Scissors, Rock) or flip a coin to see who gets extras.
  • Lottery: For example: pick numbers or names out of a hat to see who gets extras
  • Majority rule: For example: Take a vote on how to settle on a method for handing out the extras.

Talk about each approach. Give examples, drawing upon your own experience and relevant experiences the children may have had, to help the children identify the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.]

Activity 2

Make a list of everyone in your class. Ask each person what his or her favorite snack is, and use a picture to show what each person says. Make rows out of all the same pictures to make a graph showing what the favorites are. (Discuss the graph with the students. Focus on the areas where many students shared the preference, and highlight the idea that sharing things that are more popular can be difficult.)

Activity 3

The situation here is that the teacher has a snack to share. But there will be some extra snacks, so some students will be able to have more than one treat. How do you decide how to share the extras? There are lots of ways to decide. This Interactive activity shows some of the most common ways of making decisions about sharing. Think about the snack you’re trying to share and make a pictograph showing what everyone thinks of how each method would work. Discuss the results with your class.


Talk about the graph and the activity with your class. What are the benefits and disadvantages of each? Take a vote on which idea to use and share the treats in that way. [Note to teachers: Taking a vote is the “majority rule” method, and the method most often used in making governmental decisions about distribution. If the children still have difficulty with sharing the extra treats, you may have to choose the method of decision. As you do that, remind the children which method it is and remind them of the advantages and the disadvantages associated with it.]


  1. The best way to evaluate the students’ understanding of these concepts is observation of student behavior in similar situations. Students should be able to discuss with each other some solutions to problems as they arise and apply some of the concepts or decision-making strategies in their day-to-day activities. As appropriate, ask these questions of students as a follow-up to the activities:
  2. What is the hardest thing about sharing? [Possible answers: Not everyone can be happy; it’s hard to pick a way that’s fair to everyone]
  3. What are some different decisions we make about how to share? [Students should reiterate some of the methods that were discussed in the activity]
  4. What’s the “best” way to share? [There is not one best way. Each way has advantages and disadvantages, so you have to try different methods and evaluate the consequences of each.]
  5. If you were going to bring a treat to class, how would you plan for the class to share the treat? What if you were bringing toys to school for the playground? How would you decide the best way for all students to share them?
  6. Ask the students to draw a picture to show the best way for people people to share.