University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #VM211

Third Grade Manatee Curriculum—Lesson 8: How Much Do Manatees Need to Eat?1

Maia McGuire and Ruth Francis-Floyd2

For other lessons in the Third Grade Manatee Curriculum series, click here.


Students will use math skills to calculate manatee feeding needs


By the end of the activity, students will be able to use division to distribute food evenly to each manatee.

Standards Addressed


Common Core—CCSS.-Math.Content.3.OA.A.1.2

You Will Need


  1. Remind students that manatees have to eat a lot of food every day. Generally, manatees will eat one tenth (1/10) of their body weight in plants every day. So, a manatee that weighs 1,000 pounds will have to eat 100 pounds of food each day.

  2. Have students complete “Manatee Feeding Time” activity.* Explain to students that they are going to pretend to be manatee keepers at Sea World. It will be their job to make sure that each manatee gets its share of food. They will feed the manatees romaine lettuce, cabbage, grapes, and carrots. Have the students do the following:

      • Cut out all of the boxes on the sheet (manatees and food items).

      • Count how many of each item they have and enter those numbers on their worksheet.

      • Give an equal amount of each food item to each manatee.

      • Create equations/number sentences to show how they distributed the food among the manatees, and write these on the worksheet.

*The “Manatee Feeding Time” activity is also available online as part of SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Splash of Math: K–3 Teacher’s Guide at

“Manatee Feeding Time” Activity Worksheet

Name: ________________________________

Before you start distributing the food to the manatees, you should take “inventory.” This means you need to count how much of each type of food you have and how many manatees you need to feed.

  1. How many romaine lettuce pieces did you start with? _____________

  2. How many cabbage pieces did you start with? _____________

  3. How many grapes did you start with? _____________

  4. How many carrots did you start with? _____________

  5. How many manatees do you have to feed? _____________

Once you have “fed” the manatees, write a number sentence for each food type to show how the food was distributed. For example, if you had had 20 water hyacinths to give to 4 manatees, each manatee would get 5 hyacinths. An equation for this would be

20 ÷ 4 = 5

Write an equation for each food type:

  1. Romaine lettuce

  2. Cabbage

  3. Grapes

  4. Carrots



This document is VM211, one of a series of the Veterinary Medicine—Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date July 2015. Revised October 2018. For more lessons in the Third Grade Manatee Curriculum series, go to Visit the EDIS website at


Maia McGuire, Florida Sea Grant agent, UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns and Flagler Counties; and Ruth Francis-Floyd, professor and UF/IFAS Extension veterinarian, College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Forest Resources and Conservation; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The authors would like to thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their financial support of this project.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.