Hands-On Candy Math and Science Lessons Make Learning Fun

Rather than eat all that candy sitting around the house after trick-or-treating (or another holiday), why not put it to good use? These fun candy math and science lesson ideas will keep your kids busy, happy, and learning!

Math and Science with Candy: Hands-On STEM Activities

What will we do with all this candy?

Honestly, most of the candy that comes in this house after trick-or-treating eventually gets pitched or given away. There’s only so much I can allow my kids to eat before the mom guilt kicks in. However, during the few days we still have loads and loads of candy, we always have fun with living math and science lessons!

Candy Math and Science

Candy graphing is for all ages!

Concrete graphs are graphs that you create with objects. In this case, the objects are candy. I love that concrete graphs can be used with children of all ages. Building concrete graphs gives the benefit of building a visual understanding of what graphs represent through a hands-on activity.

With younger students, just having them place the candy in sorted lines is enough. With older students, I like using masking tape to build graph boundaries and notecards for labels.

Older students could even build graphs where one piece of candy placed on the graph represents two or five or ten pieces of candy in real-life. Their labels will need to reflect this.

With younger children, limit the amount of candy that needs to be graphed. With older children, give them as much candy as you have available.

Encourage children of all ages to sort their candy based on whatever characteristics they like – gum, chocolate, suckers, crunchy, chewy, hard etc.

For a little technology connection, I usually ask my older students to recreate their concrete bar graphs using Excel.

As an extension, we will often use the data from the printed graphs to determine the mean, median and mode from our candy haul.

Create your own taxonomy for fun science learning!

Another name for taxonomy is classification. Another name for classification is sorting. Sorting based on detailed characteristics is an important science skill.

If concrete graphs are good for building an understanding of what data they represent, concrete taxonomy does the same thing for classification. Since classification involves continually breaking larger groups into smaller groups, the hands-on component of this activity is especially important for understanding.

This activity can take quite a long time if you use your entire stash of candy. While I really like the challenge the entire stash gives to my older students, we always start small.

You can see from the pictures, that we use notecards and pipe cleaners to build our taxonomy.

Beginning with the main group of candy, your student should determine how to break the large group into two smaller groups based on one characteristic – and only one characteristic. For instance, one group might by “chocolate” and the other “non-chocolate.”

We usually focus on just one group at first. So, while we work on categorizing the “chocolate” group, we just let the “non-chocolate” group sit peacefully until the “chocolate” group is fully categorized.

With the “chocolate” group, your student should now determine one new characteristic to further categorize the candy. For instance, the new groups might be “crunchy” and “non-crunchy.”

For each new group, continue breaking them down one characteristic at a time until you end up with each specific type of candy in it’s own pile.

When finished, talk through each candy’s classification. An example from my son’s latest taxonomy chart: The Butterfinger’s classification would be – Candy; chocolate; bright wrappers; made with peanuts; made with peanut butter, crunchy, Butterfinger.

Do you see how his candy classification is similar to the scientific classification of life?  Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Pretty cool, huh?

If you liked this activity, I bet you’ll like our bean classification lesson, too!

Would you like more candy math ideas?

These candy math books will inspire the entire family!

The M&M's Brand Counting BookThe M&M's Brand Color Pattern BookMore M&M's Brand Chocolate Candies MathThe M&M's Subtraction BookReese's Pieces Count By FivesHershey's Kisses Addition BookHershey's Kisses Subtraction BookHershey's Milk Chocolate Weights And Measures BookThe Hershey's Milk Chocolate Multiplication BookThe Hershey's Milk Chocolate Fractions BookTwizzler's Shapes And PatternsTwizzlers Percentages Book


Candy math and science make a creative difference in your homeschool. Have fun learning!

Check out these other great math resources:

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  1. This is great, Cindy! I’m so pinning this!

  2. Cindy, I really love the taxonomy idea and will use it with our first grader : )
    Thank you!!!

  3. I love this SO SO MUCH! Especially the taxonomy idea! Now I know what to do with all that Halloween candy. 😉 Thank you for making math fun again!

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