Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Probability Jar

Children will examine 3 different jars filled with marbles and
determine the probability of choosing various colored marbles.

Content Area Standard Target
• Data Analysis and Probability
• Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them
• Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data
• Sort and classify objects according to their attributes and organize data about objects
• Discuss events related to students’ experiences as likely or unlikely
Obtain the Materials

• 6 jars or clear cups with different colored marbles or colored manipulatives in them.  You could even use pictures of gumball machines with different colored gumballs.  There does not need to be a lot of marbles or gumballs in the containers.
• a jar with all blue marbles
• a jar with all green marbles
• a jar with 3 yellow, 1 green, 1 blue
• a jar with all red marbles
• a jar with 3 green, 1 yellow, 1 blue
• a jar with all orange marbles
• 3 “Probability” cards labeled: certain, possible, impossible

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity

1. Give the children a working definition of probability – the chance that something is going to happen.  Explain to the children that today they are going to explore the concept of probability.
2. Explain that today they are going to each pick marbles from a jar and decide on the probability of picking a certain color.

Engage the Children

1. Provide examples for each of the Probability cards.
• Using the jar with all blue marbles, ASK: “What is the probability that I will pick a blue marble?  Is it certain that I will pick a blue marble?  Is it possible that I might pick a blue marble?  Or is it impossible to pick a blue marble?”  “Since all the marbles are all blue, it is certain that I will pick a blue marble.”  Have a child pick a marble out of the jar and respond to the marble they choose.  Place the card that states Certain in front of the jar.
• Using the jar with all the orange marbles, ASK: “What is the probability that I will pick a blue marble?  Is it certain that I will pick a blue marble?  Is it possible that I might pick a blue marble?” Or is it impossible to pick a blue marble out of this jar of all orange marbles?”  Again, have a child pick a marble out of the jar and respond to the marble they choose. (Impossible)  Place the card that states Impossible in front of the jar.
• Using the jar that has the 3 green, 1 yellow and 1 blue marbles in it, ASK: “What is the probability that I will pick out green marble?”  “Is it certain that I will pick out green marble?  “Is it possible that I might pick out a green marble? Or is it impossible to pick out a green marble?” Have a child pick a marble out of the jar and respond to the marble they choose. (Possible)  Explain that it is possible pick out a green marble but it is not certain because you could also pick out a yellow marble or a blue marble.  “The chances are higher that I will pick out a green marble but they are not certain because there are other colored marbles in the jar.”  Place the card that states Possible in front of the jar.
2. Pose questions to the children about each of the jars and the probability of picking certain colored marbles.  Have the children take turns answering the questions and placing the “Probability” cards in front of each jar after each of the questions.

Make individual cards or a recording sheet with pictures of the various jar combinations and questions about the probability of picking out a specific colored marble.  Make room for the answer.  Allow the children to work on and answer the cards individually.  When everyone is finished with their work, bring the children together to talk about their answers.

Encourage Vocabulary

• Probability – The chance that something is going to happen (e.g., "What is the probability that I will pick out green marble?")
• Certain – Inevitable; will definitely happen (e.g., “Is it certain that I will pick out green marble?”)
• Impossible – No chance that a particular event will happen (e.g., "Is it impossible to pick a blue marble out of this jar of all orange marbles?")
• Possible – A chance that something might happen (e.g., "Is it possible that I might pick out a green marble out of the jar?")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Not yet grasp the concept of probability.

Pre-K Children may:

• Work independently.

Home child care providers may:

• ust begin with certain and impossible.  Only show the jars and ask the questions that would result in the children answering certain or impossible.
• After reviewing certain and impossible, build in possible into the repertoire of questioning.

Home child care providers may:

• Make individual cards or a recording sheet with pictures of the various jar combinations and questions about the probability of picking out a specific colored marble. Make room for the answer.  Allow the children to work on and answer the cards individually.  When everyone is finished with their work, bring the children together to talk about their answers.

Books

• That's a Possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen by Bruce Goldstone (New York: Henry Holt and Co, 2013)
• Do You Wanna Bet?: Your Chance to Find Out About Probability by Jean Cushman (New York: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2007)
• A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure by Edward Finhorn (Boston, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2008)

Music and Movement

• Many students learn through music. Witness the number of adults who easily sing the ABC song with their own children. Composers are beginning to develop math-specific songs to help students learn math concepts and skills. Whether teachers use a song to introduce or reinforce a concept, or as a regular part of calendar time, students are bound to benefit from the multi-sensory experience.
http://www.mathwire.com/music/music.html#mdata

Outdoor Connections

Web Resources

Comment on this lesson

 To report a problem with the site, please email us. © 2011. M.A.T.H.