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Mary J. Holder Sherwood Elementary School
245 West 57th Street
Chicago IL 60621
Probability: A number that tells how likely it is that something will happen.
An educated guess. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce children to the
skill of probability. This lesson is designed for grades four and five, however
may be used at any grade level depending on the level and the ability of the
A bag of ten pennies for every two children, color pencils or markers, graph
paper, six-sided dice, M & M candy (any variety of M & M candies).
I have some candy. I am going to place 5 pieces in the bag. Four will be
yellow and one will be green. Which will be most likely to pick out of the bag?
Which will be least likely to pick? Why do you think? Add more candy to the
bag and several different colors until you reach the number 10.
Activity #1: Coin Toss
Each group will receive a bag with ten pennies, a sheet of graph paper and
markers. On the graph paper will be the following combinations:
HHH,HHT,HTH,HTT,THH,THT,TTH,TTT. The students then will number the left side of
the graph paper from 1 to 10 starting at the bottom. Take out three pennies
from the bag. Throw the pennies 10 times and see which of the combinations will
fall. Shade in the graph according to one of the combinations. Establish with
the students the rules. The penny that falls closest to them is 1st, one in the
middle is 2nd, one farthest away is 3rd. After the ten tries, have one child
from each group come to the front of the class and discuss the outcomes of each
throw. Students will then take the entire bag of ten pennies and make one
throw. Group together all heads and tape together in a line end to end. Repeat
for tails and compare the results.
Activity # 2 M & M
Divide the students into groups of twos. Give each group one bag of M & M. One
sheet of graph paper and markers for the colors of the M & M. Have the students to
write the colors of the M & M at the bottom of the sheet and number the paper on
the left starting at the bottom from 1 to 10. Remove one M & M at a time and
color in that color. Let the students do this for the 10 tries. Discuss the
outcomes with each group of students. Students may use the remaining M & Ms to
complete the graph showing the total number of M & M's in the bag.
Activity #3 Spinner
Give each group a spinner with the numbers 1 through 6. The students are to
take three tries at spinning to see if the spinner will stop on the number 1.
Students then may illustrate or show the results of the spins on the chalkboard.
Give each group a bag of M & M peanuts, or peanut butter. Graph the number of
each color and compare the results with the previous activity results.
World Book Encyclopedia; Aims Activity