Grade: Elementary
Subject: Mathematics

#4072. M&M Graphing and Probability

Mathematics, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Jan 7 19:33:11 PST 2008 by Jeannie M Bailey (
Clemson Elementary School, Clemson, SC
Materials Required: Computer, markers, M&Ms, graphing worksheet
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Concepts Taught: Math (classifying, counting, rounding, graphing, ratios, probability, estimating)

Lesson Plan for Induction Teacher Class
M&M Graphing and Probability
Jeannie Bailey
1st grade/Clemson Elementary

Elementary (1-3)
Math (classifying, counting, rounding, graphing, ratios, probability, estimating)

OVERVIEW: Charts and graphs are not only valuable instruments for communicating data quickly and simply, they can be tools for stimulating discussion, and aids in promoting mathematical thinking. Graphing activities for elementary students should include more than fixed displays of information. A hands-on, relevant lesson can be a successful way of teaching concepts which students are more likely to retain. M&M Graphing and Probability can be as simple as making a pictograph (1st and 2nd grades), or as involved as predicting and determining probability (3rd-5th grades).

PURPOSE: To provide students with a hands-on and cooperative learning experience in the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, and to improve decision making skills through the use of probability.

Students will be able to:
1. Count, sort, and classify M&M's by color.
2. Record data on a chart.
3. Use data from a chart to create a pictograph.
4. Use data from a chart to create a bar graph.
5. Use data from a chart to create a circle graph.
6. Analyze and interpret data.
7. Use data to figure ratios.
8. Use data to determine probability.

Small bags of M&M's and M&M Booklet made by teacher which include pencil, paper, crayons or markers. Promethean Flipcharts are available from which can be modified to allow the students to graph M&Ms.

1. Give each student (or pair of students) one small bag of M&M's.
2. Ask students to estimate how many M&M's they have in all and record their answer in the chart.
3. Ask students to then count to see exact number of M&M's they have and record in their answer in the chart.
4. Ask students to estimate how many of each color M&M they have and record their answer in the chart.
5. Ask students to open the bag, sort, and classify the M&M's according to color.
6. Ask students to record the information from step 2 on a chart.
7. After illustrating various pictographs, ask students to use their data to create their own pictograph.
8. Compare graphs. Have students discuss the differences and the similarities of the graphs.
9. Have class form small groups of 4-6. (possibly by rows in the classroom) Ask the groups to combine their data and make a new chart illustrating the results.
10. After discussing bar graphs, ask the groups to create and color a bar graph using the new figures. Compare this graph to the individual pictographs. Are the ratios the same?
11. Ask the groups to combing all of the data to include on a class graph. Round the numbers to the nearest tens for ease in creating a circle graph. You may want to do this together on the Promethean Board so that the whole class can see the results.
12. Ask students to determine the ratio of each color of M&M to the entire bag. With this information, the students can predict the probability of selecting one color at random from a large bag. How many of each color would be likely to be found in a handful of 10, of 20? Try it. Discuss the results. Then enjoy the M&M's.

1. Get the students thinking in another direction. Ask them why they think the makers of M&M's make more brown ones than green. Write a creative class essay about it and let students email the company. Asking questions like what color M&M do you think your company will add next? Why are there more brown M&M's in a package? How many M&M's are in a package? What color was the first M&M in a package? Research for this activity would be performed by the students using the internet to get interesting facts about M&Ms at
2. Have students research to find out why there was a period of years that no red M&M's were made. When did they start including red M&M's in the packages again? When did the blue M&M begin to be part of the M&M package? Research for this activity would be performed by the students using the internet to get interesting facts about M&Ms at
3. While the students are visiting the M&M website, the students can send E-Cards to parents from the website. For those students without internet access at home, they could send a E-card to a teacher in the school.
4. M&M also has games that they could play during their workstation activity.

This lesson plan addresses the following standards
1. Organize data in graphic displays in the form of drawings and pictures
2. Interpret data in graphic displays in the form of drawing and pictures
3. Organize data to form pictographs and bar graphs
ASSESSMENTS: Probability is an important decision-making tool. Teaching students to successfully use data from charts or graphs to predict probability will improve their decision- making skills. A hands-on approach will help students apply the concepts of graphing, and probability to other problem solving and risk-taking situations.