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Grade: elementary
Subject: Mathematics

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#2. Tootsie Pop Pull - Probability

Mathematics, level: elementary
Posted by Shawn Parkhurst (
Williston Central School, US
Materials Required: large grocery bag, enough tootsie pops for everyone in the class.
Activity Time: about 1 1/2 hours
Concepts Taught: probability

This lesson is an introduction to probability and the work of sampling without replacement. In a large grocery bag I put enough tootsie pops for everyone in the class. I made sure that I had a mixture of flavors in the bag. I then gave each child a sheet to record the number of tootsie pops for each flavor that were in the bag and then had them circle their favorite flavor. We then went around the room and as each child pulled from the bag they had to do three things: 1. tell me their favorite flavor, 2. tell me the probability of them getting their favorite flavor and 3. keep a tally of the flavors drawn from the bag at the bottom of their sheet. We had an excellent discussion about whether or not something was a good chance. Many of the students learned that it didn't matter about being last because the theoretical probability was very different from our experimental probability. Great fun!