Playing with Probability - Some Simple Scenarios

6 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT write and state complete sentence predictions and then write or state a complete, mathematical response that compares the actual results of a probability trial with reality.

Big Idea

Exposure to this concept now is both fun and engaging AND a crucial step toward building a foundation for deeper, long-term understanding.

Opener/ Mini-Lesson

20 minutes

This is a great lesson for when you need to do something different.  I used it the first day back after our extremely late spring break, when the students were tired from travel and need to readjust to the routine of school.  It has the feel of a lottery about it, and that piques their interest for the underlying, meaningful understanding of probability and, later on I hope, statistics!

I chose to use jellybeans because they were on sale and they are colorful and a change from cubes.  Colored pieces of construction paper would also work for this activity!

I presented students with several scenarios.  The first one was straightforward.  I told them that I had placed ten jellybeans in a cup.  9 were one color and 1 was a second color.  What is the chance that a person will pull the second color?  

The second scenario was exactly the same, just presented differently.  I placed jellybeans in 10 plastic eggs.  9 eggs had 1 jellybean.  1 egg had 2 jellybeans.  If 10 kids receive 1 egg, what is the chance of getting the egg with 2 jellybeans?

For the 3rd question, I jumped to something much more complex.  I showed them the bag of jellybeans I had.  It contained blue, green, yellow, pink and orange jellybeans.  I placed 30 in a cup (we have 29 students + me).  I asked them, "If each of us closes our eyes and takes one jellybean, what is the chance of getting a pink?"

Students' responses to this question are very informative.  Some students will logically try to pursue 6 groups of 5 colors equal 30.  Some students realize that without knowing how many pink jellybeans I put in the cup, you could not answer this question!

Active Engagement

35 minutes

After they ALL wash their hands with soap and running water, I pass out jellybeans to groups of 5.

I give each of the 6 groups a cup and a bag containing 10 jellybeans in 5 colors.  They use the directions in Jellybean Probability Independent Practice to set up and test several different scenarios.

I almost never give them sweets, so I don't worry about this small amount.  Also, the amount they will be allowed to eat at the conclusion of this lesson is minimal, and ties in well to the nutrition lesson that I try to consistently present to them - occasional treats are not the problem, it's the everyday meal and snack choices we make that determine our level of nutritional health.


5 minutes

I ask students to complete this Exit Ticket and, if time permits, to read their answer to another student.