Skittles are tasty, versatile treats that you can use to help students better visualize and understand abstract mathematical concepts. Skittles also provides a hands-on learning experience that makes learning math concepts that much more interesting! If you notice your kids getting bored with regular math challenge activities, bring out the Skittles! Here are 10 skittles math activity ideas to get you started.
1. Sort and Count
Teach students both numbers and colors by letting them sort a bag of skittles by color. Let them list the color’s names and how many skittles there are. Sorting introduces them to set theory and more advanced concepts like stem-and-leaf plot visualizations.
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2. Telling Time
Draw a clock face with 12 skittles on the 12 o’clock spot, 1 Skittle on the 1 o’clock spot, and so on, to visually depict the fact that the clock numbers represent a certain number of hours. Teach elapsed time by counting skittles between them (let one skittle represent one dot plot).
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With this skittles math activity, teach children how to measure and understand length, width, weight, and volume. Use skittles to determine the length and thickness of a book, how heavy a crayon is (using a balance scale), or how many skittles will fill a small bottle.
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4. Addition and Subtraction
You can use skittles as manipulatives for addition and subtraction. Learners can add or subtract a number of different colored skittles to solve word problems. You can place the numbers and plus or minus symbols underneath the candies to help students understand how to write and answer math challenge equations.
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5. Multiplication and Division
Skittles can help students hone their multiplication and division skills. To teach multiplication, put equal amounts of skittles in Ziploc bags or cupcakes, and then have students find the total number. Or, have them put a certain number of skittles in bags and count how many bags they use up to teach division.
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Skittles can introduce children to fractions. Have them sort skittles according to color to show that a whole can be made up of parts. Then, show them how a number of skittles represent a particular fraction. Teaching your students how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions with skittles is a fun math challenge.
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Have artistic students create geometric or bar graph designs using skittles. Make them compare shapes by lining them up with skittles. Teach your students the difference between area and perimeter by letting skittles represent measurement dot plot units. You could also teach computations like the Pythagorean theorem or stem-and-leaf plot concepts.
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Let skittles represent algebraic equation variables. For example, red skittles will be “x” and green ones will be “y”. Use different colored skittles to teach students about graphing linear and quadratic functions. They will use each skittle as a dot plot in the appropriate answer cell.
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9. Skittles Statistics
Let students collect statistical data based on the colors and numbers of skittles in one bag. Have them create a stem-and-leaf plot, pie chart, or bar graph to represent their collected data. You can also teach probability by calculating the chances of picking a particular color of skittles.
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Teach the different kinds of sampling through skittles: simple random sampling, stratified sampling, cluster sampling, systematic sampling, and multi-stage sampling are great learning areas. Dividing the group and the skittles appropriately will help students tell the difference between these sampling techniques.
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