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A Math lesson on Probability




1, 2  

Mary Ann Polowy

Terri Muensterman

Lesson Plan

Topic: Probability

Grade Level: 1 – 2

Objective: 1 The student will explore probability, practice addition, develop number sense and use probability terms as they play a game with color tiles.

Lesson: Time: This activity is designed to take approximately one class period, 45 ‘ minutes.

Materials: Small bowls (or paper plates) large enough to hold 12 color tiles. ( One bowl for each pair of students

Color tiles, 12 per pair of students.

Dice one die per pair of students.

One sheet of chartpaper titled “Rolls to Empty the Bowl’ and listing the numbers 2 – 12 down the left side.

Anticipatory Set: Read a story from the book, Math Fun: Test Your Luck. Talk about probability and probability words used in the story. Wnte a list of probability words on the chalkboard such as, chance, perhaps, likely, unlikely, probably, possible, perhaps, maybe and could be. Tell the students they get to play a probability game today and after they play a few times, you’ll look at what’s likely or probable to happen. Play an example round with one of the students to demonstrate the game. Ask the student to predict the number of rolls it will take to empty the bowl.


Post the class chart paper with the heading “Rolls to Empty the Bowl” in a location where students can add to it.

Divide the students into pairs. Each pair gets 1 die, 12 color tiles, a bowl, and a paper and pencil for recording.

To play they will roll the die, note the number that comes up, and take out that many color tiles. While one person rolls to see how many times it takes to empty the bowl, the other person will record each of the other student’s rolls on a sheet of paper. They will continue with one rolling and the other recording until the bowl is empty. For example, one student rolls a 3, then a 4, then a 6. The other student writes 3 + 4 + 5 = 12. Rolls to empty the bowl = 3.

Explain that it is not necessary to go out exactly in this game. For example, if there are two tiles in the bowl, and a five is roiled, you may remove the tiles.


Have each pair play the game five times. After each game, have the pair record the number of rolls it took to empty the bowl on the class chart paper entitled, “Rolls to Empty the Bowl.”


As a class examine the chart to identify the most likely number of roils it took to empty the bowl. Also identify the most and fewest rolls it took t’or anyone to empty the bowl.

Ask them it’ they notice anything else.

Discuss the fewest and the greatest number of rolls it could take to empty the bowl and how likely or unlikely that would be. What amount of rolls could never empty the bowl? Why? Point to words on the probability words chart as they are used in discussion.

Extension Play the game using 20 tiles. Have the students use subtraction skills instead of addition by subtracting the numbers rolled on the dice trom the 12 tiles.


Tank, Bonnie: Math By All Means: Probability Grade i – 2 (A Marilyn Burns Replacement unit, Math solutions Publications, New York, N.Y., 1996.

Judy McCray, Ridgeway Elementary, Columbia MO

Elting Mary and Wyler, Rose: Math Fun – Test Your Luck Simon and Schuster, New Yoric, N.Y., 1992.

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