Skittle Arrays

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SWBAT build arrays using verbal and written directions

Big Idea

In this lesson students use knowledge of rows and columns to build simple arrays using skittles or other small objects


5 minutes

Yesterday we learned about columns and rows.  Using your arms, I want you to show me which way a row goes (Students extend their arms horizontally). Now show me which way columns go  (students extend their arms vertically).  

We can remember columns and rows by using our anchor images from yesterday as well.  

I show students the anchor chart and review the difference between a column and a row.

 I use anchor charts to provide a visual for students.  I post the charts around my classroom and encourage students to use them as they work.  In this case, the anchor images for rows and columns help students to remember the difference between rows and columns and accurately solve problems about arrays. 

Introduction to New Material

10 minutes

We’re going to review what we learned about columns and rows yesterday by building arrays.  I draw a 3 X 4 array on the board.  This is an array.  It has both columns and rows.  How many columns does it have?  How many rows does it have? 

Now I'm going to build an array using skittles.  I want to build an array that has 3 columns and 2 rows.  

Turn to your parter and explain how you would build  an array that has 3 columns and 2 rows. 

 I ask students to turn and talk so that every student is able to share their ideas and so that students who are struggling to conceptually understand arrays can hear a teammate use his or her own words to explain their ideas. Turn and talks maximize student engagement and also provide a barometer for me to informally assess student understanding of a skill. 

After about 1 minute of share time, I call on a few students to share how they would build the array.  I ask guiding questions like:  How many total skittles do I need?  How do I start building?  Should I start building the columns or the rows?  

I invite one student forward to build the array underneath the document camera or on the rug.  As  the student builds, I ask the other students to think about how their building strategy is similar and different from their teammate who is building the array for the class. 

After the student has finished building, I ask him/her some questions to expose his/her thinking and to provide a model for other students. 


How did you start building?

How did you know how many skittles you needed?

Did you start building the columns or the rows first?

How did you check your work to make sure it is correct?

Students should be able to identify a strategy for building an array whether it be starting three columns and then filling in the rows or vice versa.  Make sure that the spotlighted student is explaining his/her thinking so that his/her teammates can use this information during the guided practice. 

Guided Practice

15 minutes
Now you are going to work with a partner to build arrays using skittles.  You will receive instructions about what your array should look like, then you will build the array, and then you will draw the array.  
As students work,  I walk around and ask guiding questions:
How many columns does this array have?
Why did you put that column there?
How many total skittles does this array have?  How do you know?

When finished, I bring students back together to go over 1-2 of the practice problems.  Ask students to share their drawings and explain how they got each answer. 

Independent Practice

10 minutes

Now you are going to build arrays using skittles all by yourself!  

I hand out the independent worksheet.  Independent work is divided depending on ability: 

Group A:  In need of intervention

Students in group A will work with me to complete an arrays worksheet.  Their worksheet will have boxes drawn on it so that they can visualize and conceptualize the arrays. 

Group B:  Right on track!

Students in group B will build arrays using skittles.  They will work independently.

Group C: Extension

Students in group C will not use skittles to build the arrays. As an extension they will be able think abstractly and simply draw the array. 

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

Now you are going to show me what you know on your exit ticket!  You may use skittles to help you solve the exit ticket.  I hand out the exit tickets to students.