M&M Activity and Equivalent Ratios

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SWBAT find equivalent ratios.

Big Idea

Students eat M&Ms and learn about equivalent ratios.

Do Now

10 minutes

Students have previously worked on using tape diagrams to find equivalent ratios.  This Do Now problem is a review of this concept.  Students will have 5 - 10 minutes to work on the problem independently.

Do Now

In a bag of mixed walnuts and cashews, the ratio of number of walnuts to number of cashews is 5:6. Determine the amount of walnuts that are in the bag if there are 54 cashews. Use a tape diagram to support your work. 

After 10 minutes I will randomly call students up to explain their work.  Each student will explain and complete one step of the solution.  For example,

1st step - Draw the tape diagram

2nd step - Label the diagram

3rd step - Determine the value of each box

4th step - Determine the amount of walnuts

If students have difficulty with a step, I will ask a classmate to help them.

M&M Activity

30 minutes

I will start off the activity by assessing students knowledge of M&Ms.  This will also create some excitement because students may anticipate what is to come.

In your standard bag of M&Ms, how many colors are there?  What are the colors?

Each group will receive a bag of 100 M&Ms of assorted colors.  I will lead students through how they will fill out the activity sheet, Writing Ratios M&M Activity.

  • Complete the first table
  • Begin by tallying each color
  • Write each color as a ratio of part to total
  • Simplify each ratio
  • Eat some of the M&Ms
  • Repeat the process until you have complete all three tables

It is important to emphasize that if students begin by eating all of the M&Ms, then they will not be able to complete the activity.  They should cooperatively work with their group for this activity. See M&M Activity Group Work.

Note:  A common mistake that students make is they do not recalculate the total after each round.  It is important to circulate throughout the groups to look for this mistake. If I see a group has made this mistake, I may ask:  Did you eat any M&Ms?  So, why is the total the same?  See M&M Activity Counting.

When groups have completed the activity, I will allow them to eat the remaining M&Ms and then complete the problem at the bottom of the worksheet

Lesson Summary

5 minutes

This portion of the lesson is for students to share out their work and experiences.

What was challenging about the activity?  

What was a mistake that your group made during the activity?


Students may focus on the fact that they had different amounts of each color m&m, but it's important to refocus them on the concepts of equivalent ratios and comparing ratios.