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How Many M&Ms? Lesson Plan on Graphs & Estimation

written by: AJFA • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/6/2012

Have your students practice math concepts by estimating how many M&Ms of each color there are in a bag. Students will create a double bar graph and a pictograph as well as practice skills of estimation.

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    Need a fun and interactive way to teach graphs? Try graphing candy! Have each student estimate how many M&Ms of each color there are in a single serve size bag. No snacking until the end of the lesson!

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    Needed Materials

    1 bag of M&Ms for each student (Be sure to use non-peanut M&Ms if any students are allergic to peanuts.)



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    Before Opening the Bags of M&Ms

    Ask students to write down the answers to the following questions before opening their bag of M&Ms:

    • Estimate how many M&Ms are in the package.
    • How many different colors are in the package and what are they?
    • Which color do you think occurs most often?
    • Which color do you think occurs least often?
    • Look at your package and one other package near you. Do you think that all of the packages weigh the same? What would be the easiest way to find out?
    • Estimate how many M&Ms there are of each color in your package.
    • Create a chart of each color and your estimate of how many there are of each color.
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    Open the Bag, but Don't Eat the M&Ms Yet

    • Sort the M&Ms by color and count how many there are of each color. Chart the actual numbers by your estimates.
    • Compare your estimates to the actual amounts in the bag.
    • Compare the amount of M&Ms and colors in your bag to the amounts that other people have.
    • Why do you think that everyone does not have the same amounts of each color?
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    Graph Time

    • Make a double bar graph comparing the amounts of estimated and actual M&Ms by color. Title it. Use a key to tell what the colors mean (one color for actual and one color for estimated). Label the x-axis with "Color" and the y-axis with "Number of M&Ms."
    • Make a pictograph for the actual amount of each color of M&Ms. Title the graph. Use the key: one picture of an M&M = 2 actual M&Ms.
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    • Students' charts
    • Students' graphs
    • Students can explain the charts and graphs orally and in writing.
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    This activity can be completed in a variety of ways:

    • Each student can use his/her own small bag of M&Ms to create the charts and graphs.
    • The class can create a chart and graph using a large bag of M&Ms.
    • Each student can make estimates and a chart using his/her own small bag of M&Ms, and the class can then find the average amount of each color to create one graph.
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