With a pile of hearts, Eli had to figure out how many each of us would get if he divided the group into fair shares. He had to decide what to do with the leftovers, too.
We practiced the ABC’s by finding each letter printed somewhere on the hearts.
We love making concrete graphs! Eli has practiced many times with bar graphs, so this time I made sure to introduce making a circle graph.
To begin transferring concrete bar graphs to written graphs, I asked Eli to make a bar graph with his candy hearts. Then, I asked him to draw his own graph on a chalkboard. Why a chalkboard? Both because we had colored chalk to match the colors of the candy and because chalk encourages a more tactile experience than pencil and paper.
Middle and High School Lessons
This was a fun twist on measuring area. Instead of placing candy on a prepared heart to determine the area, I gave my children a small pile of candy and said, “Take a look at the pile and cut out a heart that you estimate has the correct area.” We did this a few times with different sized piles of candy to improve estimation skills.
The next several pictures show a variety of graphing and probability activities. Bar graphs, stem and plot graphs, histograms and more were created.
We also had fun placing several different numbers of each color in a bag to predict and test the probability of drawing each color.
Our day wasn’t all math related. We had fun with some science experiments, too. In the first two pictures, we experimented with the rate candy hearts dissolve in various acid and base mixtures.
The final picture shows the results of an erosion experiment (disclosure: link to my book.) We placed one heart in water and let it stand still. The second heart was placed in the same amount of water, but we shook the container for three minutes. In the end, we talked about how this models why jagged rocks eventually become small, smooth pebbles.
We literally could have gone on for a week learning with candy hearts. Look at the list of ideas we came up with at co-op!
Whether you use candy hearts or another variety of colored candy, make it a fun day once in a while!
When I used to teach in a classroom, it was easy for my students to gather large amounts of data for graphing…there were 24+ people in the room at all times. As a homeschooler, it takes a little more creativity to gather data from a large group of people. We have emailed friends and family with questions before, but getting responses takes time.
Enter the world of social media! There are many ways to gather quick information from friends on Facebook or Twitter. By simply asking a question, you’re likely to have quite a few answers in a matter of minutes. Even better, a platform like Facebook makes it easy to gather some data without ever asking a question.
Recently, my 7th grader was asked to create a data sheet tallying how many Facebook friends were born in each month. To find the info, he simply had to go to the upcoming birthdays page where a month-by-month list was found as he scrolled down the page.
After tallying the data, he went to one of my favorite free spots on the web, Create A Graph. He chose to create a line graph to represent the data. Pretty professional looking, huh? You won’t believe how wonderful this graph generator is!
In total, this lesson took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a motivating, technology-integrated math activity!
Talk about a fun week of math learning with M&M’s! Below you’ll find all sorts of activities we have done with M&M’s. Most of the ideas could easily be used with other types of candy pieces, too.
Estimation: Fill a jar with M&M’s and ask your children to estimate how many they think are in the jar. The older the child, the bigger the jar should be.
Sorting: Place a pile of M& M’s in front of each child and have them sort the candy into color groups. Older kids can sort according to various attributes, like colors containing red vs. those not containing red, for example. Let them sort as many times as they can think of a new attribute.
Counting: If you have younger children, count and tally the various color groups of M&M’s.
Add/Subtract/Multiply/Divide: Depending on the age/ability of your children, offer various operational problems to your children.
Red + Green =
R + G =
(R + G) x (Y – Bl) =
2(R + G) x 3(Y – Bl) x 12 =
Fair Shares and Division: Invite several stuffed animals over for a party. Divide the M&M’s into fair shares and determine if there are any remainders. Do this several times with varying numbers of “guests”.
Multiplication Arrays: Use the M&M’s to build multiplication arrays. (Not sure what an array is? Visit this site.)
Word Problems: If you have younger children, give oral word problems like, “You have three blue M&M’s and six yellow M&M’s. How many do you have altogether?” Use the M&M’s as manipulatives.
Older children should use the M&M’s to make up their own written word problems.
Mean, Median and Mode: A pile of M&M’s is a great opportunity to practice finding averages, middle numbers and the number occurring most often.
Fractions, Decimals and Percents: Use the pile of M&M’s to decide the fractional part of each color of M&M as compared to the entire group. For example, if you have 5 red M&M’s out of a total group of 25, the fraction would be 5/25 – reduced to 1/5. Transfer the fractions to decimals and percents, too.
Graphing: Make pictographs, bar graphs, comparison graphs, pie graphs, graphs made in a spreadsheet program on your computer. One or all, graphs are great fun. Find a printable M&M’s bar graph here.
Measurement: Use the M&M’s as measuring tools to find the length, width, circumference, radius, perimeter and/or area of various items around the house.
I’d say that’s just about enough math to rival any textbook curriculum for a week, don’t you?
I found some fun sites with other ideas for using M&M’s in your homeschool classroom.
A year or two ago, I created a couple of Valentine’s Day printables for you to enjoy with your children. I thought I’d remind you about them since V-Day is just around the corner. Simply click on the graphics to download.
The Measure of a Heart uses candy hearts to practice measuring perimeter and area. After finishing the worksheet, use your candy hearts to measure the perimeter and area of other things around the house.
(In case you need to know…Perimeter is the measurement around an object and area is the measurement of an object’s surface. To measure the perimeter of the hearts on the worksheet, place candy hearts around the edges of the hearts – the dark lines – and count how many it takes to go all the way around. To measure the area, see how many candy hearts will fit inside the hearts on the worksheet.)
The Candy Pattern worksheet (which didn’t transfer to a jpg well and is MUCH nicer in the PDF download) allows your child to make various patterns using candy hearts.
(In case you need to know…each of the letters on the worksheet (A, B, C) represent a different colored candy heart. So, for instance, an ABA pattern, where A represents pink and B represents green would look like: pink, green, pink, pink, green, pink, pink, green, pink. Your child gets to decide which colors represent each letter of the pattern.)
You can find several other fun math related V-Day ideas at Googol Learning.
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