Teach/Learn – Graphing Smarties

by Deb on September 19, 2010

Post image for Teach/Learn – Graphing Smarties

Welcome to the September Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is “Maths”, which isn’t just about counting! Our bloggers have written about games, materials, memory, shapes, graphs and more. Check out the links at the bottom to find some other great posts on Maths.


Data is an important part of science – it’s all very well to have observations and come up with theories, but then you have to test them somehow.  You can start doing this with little kids even if they can’t count very high, or even at all.  I asked my husband to pick up some Smarties for this activity and he did even better – he picked up Smarties and M&Ms.  So the whole family got involved in comparing them.

First we weighed them, you’ll be glad to know the manufacturers got it right.  The 340g packet of Smarties did indeed contain 341g and the 200g packet of M&Ms contained 202g.  The big girl (4 for another 10 days!) can’t count in the hundreds but she could still compare the numbers on the scales to the numbers on the packet to check they were right.  (A packet of Smarties to the first person to explain the maths behind why they are a bit over 😉 )

Weighing the lollies

The girls scooped Smarties out until we had the same numbers on the scales so we could compare the same amounts.  If I were doing this activity again I would use much less, 50g of each would be more than enough for the next step.  But having 200g to get through did mean Daddy got involved as well and we had a little race.

We compared the two boxes by eye.  The girls decided that the Smarties were lighter, bigger and flatter than the M&Ms.

Then came the fun part:  graphing them!

Making the lolly graphs

We started together pulling out a handful of smarties and decided on the order of the colours along the bottom (x-axis) and spread them evenly up the page (y-axis).  This took good co-ordination from the little one but she did very well.

Finished Lolly Graphs

Smarties are on the left, M&Ms on the right.  Smarties are definitely the most popular because they have pink and purple and M&Ms don’t.  We could easily answer our first question – the reason the box of Smarties looks lighter is because they have lighter colours and more of them.  The Smartie green, orange and yellow were all both light and common, but the two most common M&M colours were red and dark brown, with blue not far behind.  The M&Ms seem to have a more balanced mix, it would be interesting to compare some other packets and see if we got the same results.  That would be another advantage of only using 50g.  We also confirmed the shape difference between the two lollies, it took more M&Ms to line up for the same distance as the Smarties.

This very simple type of graph can be done with all sorts of things, including toy cars, buttons, leaves, fruit, pictures on cards or anything little kids can line up.  You can start with just two types of counters and easily see which has more or which is bigger, simply by lining them up and comparing them.  If you want to get really fancy you can use grids to help put them in the right place, which will get rid of errors because of size and mean you are just looking at numbers.  In a lot of maths (and science!) comparisons are more important than actual numbers, this is a fun way of looking at that.


Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival. Teach/Learn

Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on “Maths.”

  • Marita at Stuff With Thing writes about meal time maths with the help of our dinner table centrepiece and other food related maths fun 🙂
  • AmandaB at HomeAge talks about numbers, shapes and sizes, who knew that nested building blocks could be so much more fun than just building them up and knocking them down!
  • For Cass at Schooling Choices the car is one of her favorite learning tools. She thinks you could teach a child almost everything they needed to know about Math without ever leaving the car.
  • Deb at Science@home let her kids raid the chocolate to measure and compare with scales and graphs.
  • Backyard Safari is a right-brained person who spent a lifetime struggling with math, but comes to see the light through the wonder of nature.
  • SMMART Ideas is another food learner, estimating with beans, noodles and cereal…and getting a little number writing practice in there too!
  • For Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey, learning to tell the time is an important part of learning for a child, and it incorporates areas of Maths such as number recognition, counting, sequences and general numeracy.
  • Narelle at A Bunch of Keys has a simple sorting activity that can be done with young children using things found around the home.
  • Colin at Super Parents is writing about the discipline of maths, memory, and recall at 7 years old.
  • Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now loves all the Montessori math materials. But there’s one material she says is absolutely brilliant.
  • Miss Carly from Early Childhood Resources has a range of different mathematics activities that you can play with your children of all age groups!
  • Ash from Mm is for Me has been having some number fun for little learners!
  • The Planning Queen at Planning With Kids has games to teach number recognition to preschoolers – so they don’t know you’re doing it!
  • Julie at Works For Me Homemaking says it might surprise you to know that maths is heavily reliant on language. Here is a brief discussion of some of the “language” of maths and why children struggling with language development may find maths difficult.

Thanks for visiting our carnival, we hope you find some interesting new blogs.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the weekly newsletter to hear about them all. Or grab my RSS feed

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

PlanningQueen September 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I am not sure if my littlest ones could have done this activity without eating them all! I like the idea of using grids and you could compare so many different things.
PlanningQueen´s latest amazing offering ..Teaching Number Recognition To Preschoolers So they don’t know you are doing it!My Profile


Deb September 20, 2010 at 10:15 am

Don’t worry, the extra smarties we scooped out mean they had some in a little box to eat while we were doing it! We still have the final left overs sitting there.


SMMARTideas September 19, 2010 at 10:35 pm

I am sure my girls would be engaged in a candy math activity. Great idea to graph them…and the reward for completing their candy graph is obvious! For some fun science experiments with candy you should check out http://www.candyexperiments.com. I know we’re talking about math, but the candy reminded me of this site.


Deb September 20, 2010 at 10:22 am

I’ll have to check it out, although anything that gets me to buy more isn’t necessarily a good thing 😉


Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now September 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

I LOVE it! What a fun idea and a great way to introduce graphing concepts. Now that’s one math lesson your daughters won’t forget!
Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now´s latest amazing offering ..My Favorite Montessori Math MaterialMy Profile


Marita September 20, 2010 at 8:25 am

Very fun and looking at the amount of Barbie shoes on the floor I reckon we could graph them 😀
Marita´s latest amazing offering ..Stone Age MathsMy Profile


Julie September 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Great idea, and easily adaptable to even the littlest kids. I’m sure we could find a few things to graph around here. Nicole mentioned her kids struggling not to eat the chocolates. I think it would be ME struggling with not eating them rather than my kids!


Narelle September 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Awesome activity! I was going to ask too how many made it into mouths before on the paper but looks like you’d already thought of that before you began 😉


Ash September 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

That is just the most fabulous activity! I’m going to send my teacher sister over to your post! Are they slightly over because they don’t pack half smarties or m&ms? We might try this with the little boxes of smarties. Love the idea that graphing can be so much fun.
Ash´s latest amazing offering ..N is for numbersMy Profile


amandab September 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Princess saw the photos as I loaded this page and even though she is not very well at the moment the colour returned to her face as she cried “M&M’s!!”, which I think means we have them in the house more often than we havee Smarties (anothr observation! LOL). I think this is an experiment that she would love to try, and I am sure that counting the number of colours and how many of each colour will keep her occupied (and learning) long enough to earn herself a little reward (once she is all better, of course!). Maybe we can even thow in some mini M&M’s, or some peanut ones in .. .all in the name of learning, of course! LOL


Kellyi September 22, 2010 at 8:01 am

I am *so* glad to have found you!

I home ed my four kids, and I am always on the look out for science ideas.


(I found you via Childhood 101: We Play, in case you were wondering)
Kellyi´s latest amazing offering ..science tuesday – leaves- bugs- geology and physics or a walk in the woodsMy Profile


Monique September 22, 2010 at 10:00 am

How to make maths interesting for kids and adults alike… use chocolate! Great idea, especially like the idea of the weighing bit!
Monique´s latest amazing offering ..Learning to Tell the TimeMy Profile


Miss Carly September 28, 2010 at 8:35 am

I love this activity. Its all about self-control when it comes to having the chocolate there in front of you hehe.

I have done this with using those little packets of smarties. The fun-size ones. I didn’t weight them though, just had the students graph the different colours and then we discussed the comparison between each groups. Then we got to each them 😀
Miss Carly´s latest amazing offering ..Simple Mathematics GamesMy Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: