Ratios Lesson Plan: Lure of the Labyrinth Employee Cafeteria Game

Grade Levels: 6-8

In this ratios lesson plan, which is adaptable for grade 6 through 8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore mathematical concepts. They will describe, represent, and apply numbers using mental strategies, paper/pencil and technology through an online game. Students will also practice analyzing ratios, proportions, and percentages.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Describe, represent, and apply numbers using mental strategies, paper/pencil or technology
  2. Analyze ratios, proportions, and percent
  3. Use proportional reasoning in problem solving


  • Individual computers for students to use
  • LCD projector and interactive whiteboard (if available)
  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Ratio cards
  • Pencils & paper for note taking


Familiarize yourself with the Employee Cafeteria puzzles, which can be used to teach and reinforce an understanding of ratios and proportional reasoning. The goal of this group of puzzles is to feed the monsters by filling their plates with the correct portions of slop, drumsticks, sushi, and burgers. Players must study the relationships between the numerical portions of different foods on each tray, as well as the same food across all trays.

To begin play on level one (Employee's Cafeteria), the player clicks the flashing dispensing button on the food machine and places the food that appears in the correct spot on a monster's tray. If the food is placed on the correct tray, the monster will respond favorably and that plate of food is locked into place. One light will go out on the plate counter. If the plate is incorrectly placed, the monster will respond negatively, and the food will be ejected from the tray and land in the correct place on another monster's tray. When this happens, three lights will go out on the plate counter. In order to successfully complete the first level of play, the player must place all plates of food correctly before all of the lights expire on the plate counter.

You can check out Introducing Labyrinth to Your Students for tips on setting the stage and expectations for game play. During this lesson, it is recommended that the Interactive Resources be projected to encourage a rich and active discussion of math strategies and concepts. We suggest that students play in pairs and encourage thinking aloud and collaborating to problem solve.

Detailed game directions and more suggested activities can be found by visiting the Thinkport Website. The Lure of the Labyrinth page produced by Maryland Public Television also provides additional lesson plans (which portions of this lesson have been adapted from), standards alignment, graphic organizers, and more.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show the BrainPOP movie Ratios and discuss the key vocabulary terms as a review for students.
  2. Project the Game on an interactive whiteboard. Introduce Lure of the Labyrinth as a series of math puzzles.
  3. See if students notice anything about the numbers on the trays. It's ok if students aren't able to identify any relationships between the numbers yet. Press the green button so a new food pops up and ask students which tray they think it belongs on. Have students turn and talk in small groups or pairs to discuss and share out a few answers. Model by thinking out loud how you experiment and just take a guess sometimes, and see what kind of feedback you get from the game. Encourage students to jot down any hints they get from the game by modeling this yourself ("Aah - that might be useful later in the game. I'm going to write that down...") Add a few more items of food, pausing to discuss and, encouraging students to explain their thinking.
  4. As you get a few more items on the trays, it becomes easier to identify relationships between the numbers. Ask if students notice what’s happening with the lightbulbs to the right of the green button (they reflect how many turns you take). Some students may be ready to go off and play on their own once they grasp the concept, and others may want to participate in the whole group walk-through. Each time students play the game they'll have a different experience, so it's a new challenge every time.
  5. Have students try out the game individually, if possible. After they've had some time to play, come back together for a discussion. Ask students if they discovered any strategies for solving the puzzle.
  6. Project the Interactive Resource and see if students can identify any patterns between the numbers on each tray. Tell students to be prepared to take notes throughout the game as the creatures give hints once in a while.
  7. Give students additional time to play the game either individually or in pairs. For additional assessment, have students complete the Quiz from BrainPOP’s Ratios topic.
  8. Project the FYI and look at the "Do It" tab. Make sure to block off the answers! Discuss how students might create word problems to represent ratios, using the FYI as example.
  9. For homework, assign students to come up with their own word problems to challenge a peer with.

Extension Activity:

More games by this developer are available on the Lure of the Labyrinth website.

Be sure to check out the other Math Games featured in GameUp!

BrainPOP Movies:

Scientific Method
Division (Activity Page Answer Key)
Multiplication (Activity Page Answer Key)
  • ellisk65

    It says to click on the game, then game directions. I can’t find the game directions!

    • angelawatson

      Hi, there, try visiting the game developer’s site to find more info about how the game is played. Lure of the Labyrinth is designed for students to figure out game rules as they go, as this is a puzzle-type game, but the teacher resources from the game developer can give you additional support for your planning.