Grade: Elementary
Subject: Mathematics

#3785. Skittles Lab

Mathematics, level: Elementary
Posted Wed Jun 14 15:26:02 PDT 2006 by Derek (
Willmore/School, Westminster, CA USA
Materials Required: Graph paper, White Lined, Cup of Skittles, Markers or Crayons,
Activity Time: 45-55 minutes
Concepts Taught: %, Fractions, Decimals, and Bar Graphs

Derek Mitchell
5th Grade

Title: Skittles lab
Topic Areas: percent fractions
Grade Level: 5th
1. Students will practice computing decimals from fractions.
2. Students will compute decimal into percentages.
3. Students will create bar graphs from gathered data.
Students will work alone with their own materials, but in the Skittles lab each table group will assist one another. Each student will need:
- Skittles lab materials,
- Graph paper/ White Lined paper
- Napkin
- Cup of Skittles
- Markers or crayons - purple, yellow, orange, red, green
Time: This activity is designed to take approximately one class period, 55--60 minutes. It can be lengthened or shortened depending on the amount of class discussion
Anticipatory Set
1. Divide students into cooperative learning groups, such as each table, group of desks, etc.
2. Each pair of students will need to make sure that they have the following materials:
- Lab worksheets, a cup of Skittles, markers or crayons
4. Prepare students for activity by discussing fractions and percents. Pose questions to the students such as:
-What is a fraction?
Possible explanations include part to a whole, etc.
-How do we find a fraction?
-What is a percent?
-How do we calculate percents?
-How are fractions and percents related, i.e. how can we use fractions to calculate percents?
5. Give directions. Explain the lab and the different activities involved in the lab.
6. Demonstrate the tasks required in the lab, such as computing percents.
7. Ask the students if they have questions over the lab before they begin.
Concept Development / Activity
1. Sort Skittles according to color.
2. Calculate the number of each color of Skittles and record the data on the graph paper, according to the corresponding space for each color.
3. Graph the number of each color of Skittles on the graph by using crayons or markers to color in the amount of Skittles
4. After students have graphed the number of each color of Skittles calculate the total number of Skittles.
5. Have students compute fractions for each color of Skittles in their bag. Record this data on the lab sheet.
6.Have students compute the percent of each color of Skittles in their bag. Record this data on the lab sheet.
7. Have the students share their information.
8. Record this information on the chalk board so that all students can see it, and have students record this information on the appropriate lab sheet.
9. Have students use each individual group's data to compute class results. Record these results on the appropriate lab sheet.
Discussion Questions
These are questions that can be used throughout the activity.
1. What kind of answers did you compute?
2. How do you think your results will compare to other students' results?
3. Given your results for one color of Skittles can you make predictions or estimates related to the fractions / percents for other colors of Skittles
4. Why do you think you got these results?
1. Use the data students computed and compare the results of individual colors by using greater than, less than or equal to problems. (problem examples on lab sheets)
2. Use data collected for each individual color and solve mathematical problems such as the number of green Skittles plus the number of purple Skittles.
3. Have students create their own problems using the data collected from their Skittles lab and share those problems with the class.

1. Have students discuss class data and results.
2. Have students discuss their findings from the lab, and compare that data to data provided by other students. How closely are they related? (Does everyone have more red than green?)
3. Review the math concepts practiced in the lab - - fractions, percents.
4. Ask students to discuss the relationship between fractions and percents
5. Have a student / group discussion about the overall lab, i.e. which tasks were difficult, which concepts were unclear, what areas need to be reviewed so that students have a better understanding.
A formal evaluation can be used by checking each student's lab sheets. A more informal evaluation that can be used for this activity is one of the extensions suggested. Have students use data and concepts learned from the lab to create their own Skittles problem. Have the students share these problems with the class and explain their problem. Through the explanation students should demonstrate their understanding of the lesson.