a guess what to have for snack after you do today's activity. Eat the
M&M's! Once in a while, candy is dandy. Today, after you play with your
food, you can - for once - eat it. Have those M&M's, and wash them down
with a nice glass of cold milk!
M&M's | Paper plate | Several
Zip-lock bag | Paper and markers to
make a chart
Math-related read-aloud book, or any
read-aloud book or recorded story
Everybody loves M&M's. You can
use them as a great teaching tool with kids - and afterwards, they get to eat
their "math homework."
Even though these aren't technically "story
problems," these five activities require the students to listen, think and
respond. That helps to build mathematical thinking.
Make sure that everybody washes and
dries hands thoroughly, and sanitize the desk, table or counter surface before
you do this activity.
With a larger group of students, you
can make these into "stations" and rotate kids through with about 5 minutes at
each station. For one or two kids, they can sit at the kitchen table and do
these activities one after another.
In advance, count out
and pour M&M's into a zip-lock bag. Keep the total secret. Show them the
bag. Ask them to estimate how many M&M's are in the bag. This is not a
guess - this is a calculated judgment using some form of math. Have them write
down their estimates. Whoever comes closest can explain what math skills he or
she used, to the other students. Or you can explain strategies such as counting
by rows and multiplying by height and depth.
Pour out all the
M&M's into a paper plate in front of each child. Try to make the count
even, but don't worry if they vary a bit. Have the students sort the M&M's
by color. If there's a group, add the totals for each color. But keep each
student's M&M's on their separate plate - you don't want to spread germs. Then
use the paper and markers to make a bar chart, either for each student, or for
the group as a whole. On the vertical grid, put numbers, perhaps marking by 5's
if you have a lot of M&M's. On the horizontal grid, write the colors, such
as brown, green, red, yellow, etc. Then draw a bar that shows how many of each
color the students counted. Use a marker for each bar that matches the color of
Have the students push
all their M&M's to one side. On the empty side, they are to pick up
M&M's to complete the math tasks that you give them. The first one to
complete the task and yell out the answer gets a point. For example:
3 brown + 2 yellow (the
answer is 5)
8 red - 4 orange (the
answer is 4)
If students have had
multiplication or division in school, you can make simple problems for those
math skills as well
This helps the students
concentrate and listen so that they can accomplish the math task. The whole
point of "manipulatives," like M&M's, is to help students transfer from
real-world, concrete objects such as candies, into the mental, abstract world
of thinking, preparing them for the more complex and totally symbolic math
coming up in later grade school and middle school.
With a marker, write a
number under 10, or a simple math problem that is age-appropriate (1 + 1 . . .
or 4 x 6) on each of several napkins. Lay the napkins out in front of the
students. They are to look at the number or the math problem on each napkin,
and put the correct number of M&M's on the napkin. For groups, do this on a
round-robin basis. When everybody has done one napkin, empty the M&M's back
onto their plate, and pass the napkin to the next student.
Patterns and Shapes
Challenge the students
to make a mathematical pattern on their paper plate, using their M&M's. For
example, you could have three browns, two reds, one orange, one yellow, two
blues and three greens. They can use all or just part of their M&M's to
make a pattern, and then start over and make a new pattern. They also could
move their M&M's on the plate into shapes - either math shapes such as
squares, rectangles and triangles, or they could make a dog, a person, a beach
scene, or whatever they would like.
When you're done with
these Mathtivities, it's fun to give each student a glass of cold milk and let
them eat their M&M's while listening to a math-related read-aloud book, a
story on tape, or any other story you'd like to read.