Posts tagged Math

Sweet Probability

Remember a few weeks ago when I said that our kids tend to be low in Graphing, Probability and Statistics? I’ve been doing lots of hands on activities to help my students really understand probability and statistics, here are a couple of the ones that the kids really liked:

Probability Spinner:

I got this idea from, this is a great website  for 3rd-5th grade math practice. Find the spinner activity here. This is what we did:

We discussed the probability of spinning each color, something we have done lots of times. Red is 4 out of 8, or 4:8, or 4/8, green is 1 out of 8 and so on… They get that, but they don’t “get” what it means. So, we did an experiment. I give the kids spinners and they used a paperclip to see how our probabilities matched up.

The kids worked in partners and spun 32 times, keeping tally of what color the paper clip landed on. They they determined what the actual probability of spinning each color. We compared their outcomes to our original probability and students were able to see that it was pretty close to what we had predicted. By the end of this activity they really “got” that probability is not just a random number that means nothing, it is actually predicting what would happen.

Candy Probability

Another fun activity to learn about probability is the probability of getting the different colors M&Ms. I think they might have liked this one better, mostly because I gave them a cupful of M&Ms 🙂

Here is the record sheet I made for this activity:

Candy Probability:

Here is what we did:

I gave each student a Dixie cup full of M&Ms (I used to buy the mini bags of MMs, but now I just buy the big bag and use mini cups…way cheaper!) They separated them into colors and counted them.

Then we determined the probabilities and created graphs of the different colors.

You can see this child chose a scale that was too big for his was really interesting to see them try to figure it out.

There was lots of learning happening here with probability and graphing. The kids had to reduce their fractions and compare the probabilities. They also had a choose a scale for their graph that worked for the number of M&Ms they had. Hands-on, minds-on!

There you have it! Two hands-on activities that will help kids understand probability and statistics…and give you a little snack (great for a Friday afternoon 🙂


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And the Survey Says…

One objective of our math curriculum deals with Probability, Graphs and Statistics…uff-da! (a little Minnesotan for ya 🙂 Probability concepts are super tricky for 4th graders! So what is a nerdy teacher to do? When it comes to difficult math topics, hands-on is usually a good approach. Instead of just showing my kids graphs and having them interpret and answer questions, we made our own!

First of all, the kids chose a survey question. Popular ones included: Favorite color, animal, soda, and TV show. They took their surveys to recess, home to their families and I scheduled to visit 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms to gather data. They were so cute and professional with their clipboards:

After we gathered our data, I taught the kiddos how to make a graph in Excel.  Since this was our first adventure with Excel, I decided to make a template that the kids would use to enter their data. (Download template here:  Survey Results) This was my survey about Ice Cream Flavors:

Survey Results

Ok, so we have learned about surveys, and my kiddos understand that data and graphs aren’t just “made up”, but  they actually mean something. Next up, we have to analyze our data! I know, analyzing sounds really boring…but there are ways of making it fun! Here is what we did:

I used my graph to model and explain the different types of questions that are asked when analyzing data:

Informational Questions–Which one got the most/least votes?

Comparing Questions–How many more people liked vanilla than cookies and cream?

Inference Questions–If we asked 100 more people, how many people would most likely choose vanilla?

Then my kids wrote three questions based on the information in their graphs. Having kids write their own math questions is always interesting and requires them to think really critically about the math concept. They also had to solve their own questions so they could make an answer key.

Now the fun begins continues! I put on some upbeat music and a timer for 10 minutes and all the kids used whiteboards to go around and solve the problems (kind of like Writer’s Roundtable). They used the answer key on the back to check their answers. Of course someone asked, “What if we get them wrong?” We added an element of accountability and each kid kept track of how many they got right on their board.

And the survey says: Probability, Statistics and graphs? EASY and FUN!

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Measurement 5: Long and Short of Length

I thought that doing the unit on length would be the easiest one, using a ruler should be pretty easy, right? WRONG! When my kids had to measure something that was longer than the ruler or meter stick this is what they did:

Ummm, that’s not effective! Especially when you have to measure something longer, like a hallway:

They didn’t know what to do if they object they were measuring was longer than the measurement tool. This was one of those sub-lessons that I never intended on teaching!

But enough of that! Here are the pages we used for our length labs:

Length LabLong and Short of Length

These are super basic, but they worked really well. I had the kids work in pairs or groups of three to do the measurements. It was a little bit chaotic as kids were all over the room and out in the hallway measuring everything in sight, but they learned a lot and I could see their little brains working as they tried to figure out how tall a stack of 1000 pennies would be…”Miss, we need 1000 pennies and there are only 16 here!”

Me: “You already know the height of 10 pennies, so how can you find the height of 1000 pennies?”

Watch their wheels turn 🙂

**Find all my measurement activities and resources here!

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Measurement: Introduction

So this begins a series of posts about MEASUREMENT….begin!

We remember the types of measurement with this simple mnemonic device: TLVCDT…yeah, NO! There is no simple way to learn and remember the types of measurement: Temperature, length, volume, capacity, density and time–oh, my!

According to our state testing, measurement is one of the lowest scoring objectives. Why is it that kids have such a difficult time understanding measurement? Maybe it’s because we have to teach them TWO different systems, why can’t we just pick customary or metric?! But no, somehow we have to get them to understand that inches and centimeters, grams and ounces. It is like comparing apples and oranges–both fruit, but totally different. (No, no, you can’t report length as 6 inches and 1 centimeter!) And don’t even get me started on capacity!

In light of that, I decided to create a science unit dedicated to measurement. That way I give them a double dose: converting measurement in math, and hands-on measurement in science– bam, they won’t even know what hit ’em! So here we go! Over the next several days I’ll post about my Measurement Packet and all the measurement activities, stay tuned!

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