Teaching Tip – Smarties Math

Photograph of Nestlé Smarties as sold in the U...Image via Wikipedia

This lesson is ALWAYS a hit with the students.

How could it not be?

Everyone loves Smarties.

The first thing you need to do is buy each student in your class a regular box of Smarties. Don’t cheap out and buy the snack size or Halloween boxes though. There just aren’t enough candies in those boxes to make this a valuable learning experience.

Before you hand out the candy boxes to the students you need to be very clear about your expectations. Let the students know that these candies are to be used for math. They are not to be eaten until the work has been completed. If they cannot handle this lesson, then you will not bring food in for lessons again. You can let them know that we will be using marshmallows for an upcoming lesson as well.

Tell the students that the first thing we will be doing is making an estimate as to how many Smarties are in the box. Hand out the boxes and tell them that they can shake them, inspect them, but they cannot open them until they make their estimate.

Hand out this worksheet – http://chasemarch.com/smarties_math_challenge.pdf

I really like this lesson because it incorporates all areas of the math curriculum. The students need to estimate and then collect data using tallies.

The addition sentence above looks daunting at first but you can show your students how counting by fives using the tallies is a quick and effective way to find the total sum.

The students then need to use subtraction to find the difference between their estimate and the total number of candies in the package.

Now the students get practice graphing the data and experimenting with probability.

Problem solving and symmetry comes into play in the third page of this worksheet.

I designed this lesson with Grade 3 students in mind. However, it can be adapted to be used in any grade. It reinforces math concepts across the curriculum and does so in a way that is exciting to the students.

This lesson took about an hour to complete in my class last week. If you would like the MS Word version of this worksheet, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to share resources with you. Teachers helping teachers is what Teaching Tip Tuesday is all about.

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