Monday, November 4, 2013

M is for Mathematical Monday: Fall Candy Corn Math

I am excited about linking up again with I {Heart} Recess for M is for Mathematical Monday. Make sure you check out the links, there are always great ideas shared by some fantastic teachers!  

Last week I mentioned that I used Fall Candy Corn Math created by Diane at Fifth in the Middle. I loved it! Better than that, the kids enjoyed the activities a ton. 
Even though it is called Fall Candy Corn Math, I think you could adapt it for any time of the year, especially since they are selling candy corn almost year round. 
If you missed out using it in October, you could fit it in during November or in December using red/white/green candy corn, or even in February when they sell pink candy corn. 

To prepare for class, the night before I filled snack-size baggies with about 2 fistfuls of candy corn. Each group received 1 bag. It is best to not count out the amount per bag and vary the amount in each bag so the graphs show a varied amount. Varying the amount will allow you the opportunity to teach graphing intervals. 

I told the kids they would be using the candy corn and couldn't eat any of it until after the whole activity was completed. I probably could have used a little less per bag, but in total I used a huge (4 lb) bag of candy corn, packing up 40 baggies, plus a little leftover for my co-teacher and my sons. 

I grouped my math class in groups of 2-3 and before we dove in to the tasks we read through the first section to make sure they estimated before finding the actual amount.   
Not the best picture, but you can see some of the notes we jotted on the board to help the kids find the range and how to set up their graphs. Each group wrote their number on the board so the other groups could record their data.
Graphing skills are taught heavily in 3rd and 4th grade and are not emphasized nearly as much in 5th. I suppose those who wrote our curriculum believe they retain all of their previous knowledge (ha ha),  so I took some time to review how to set up the graphs (x and y axis, title), and most importantly how to set up range and select an interval. This turned out to be a necessary review lesson, as some just randomly assigned an interval of 5, then others shouted out 2, but couldn't explain why. Eventually, after looking at the data, they selected an interval of 2 or 3 based on the number of groups that had a number divisible by 2 or 3. 
Since all of the groups had more than 20 candy corn in their bags we also talked about how to show a break in the graph. Many thought it was a cool trick. It was a great chance to talk about needing to plan ahead before graphing. This helped avoid the "I can't fit it on my graph" comments. 
The kids colored in their bar graphs and finished off the front of the sheet. Most did really well with just a little bit of review. A few others needed a little more guidance, so I rotated among the groups to lend a hand or catch them before making huge errors. 

In addition to graphing the number of candy corn in each group, the packet includes some other fun activities. Students sort the candy corn in to rows of 10 and look at how many is leftover. We just discussed divisibility in class, so students talked about if the number in their bag would divide evenly and if they would have any leftover. I loved overhearing the math talk between the partners.
Some really had fun finding the length of their thumbs with the candy corn. They also discovered how many candy corn in a foot (excellent review of measuring with a ruler and the number of inches in a foot). 
Love the use of the rulers!

Another fun activity was using the candy corn to measure the sides of their desk. This could lend itself to a discussion of perimeter and area. I didn't seize that learning opportunity since some of my kiddos were about to depart for their pull-out language arts class, and I think  others were on a little overload of opening old brain files. 
The students also compared the amount of candy corn between the groups. 
My students apparently need a refresher course on averaging since some simply added all the data together. We were short on time, but when I told them they could estimate the average many successfully found a reasonable answer. If you want them to be 1000% accurate, I highly recommend reviewing averages prior to the activity.
The  back of the sheet appealed to my students because they love to color. They had a chance to design their own candy corn and then create a pattern with the colors. A few need to review how to draw patterns, but overall they did really well independently. 
The final task was surveying the class about who actually likes candy corn. Only 2 of my whole math class said they did not like it. For the sake of time, I had a student ask the question and then they raised their hands to vote yes or no. Some needed a quick reminder about tally marks, but others quickly recalled how to tally and record data. If you have time, it might be interesting to send small groups out to survey other classes and then let them compare their results. 
All in all, the tasks in the packet were fun, easy to implement and lead to great mathematical conversations and review of skills. You can prepare in advance by reviewing graphing skills, or you can complete it with mini-lessons throughout the class session. I would recommend giving yourself about an hour to complete the tasks and to handle questions. 
As they handed in their completed sheets they were rewarded with a snack bag of their own candy corn. I was rewarded with lots of smiles, a well behaved class, and a load of thank yous! 
If you are looking for something fun to do with your class I highly recommend you check out the packet at Fifth in the Middle's store on TPT. If you are completing a graphing unit, this would be a perfect activity to close up your unit. I do not have her other sets, but she also has a Lucky Charms activity and a Conversation Heart set. I bet they are just as good and the kids will have a blast with the tasks. And if you are looking for a language arts center set check out Educents, Diane's Apple for the Teacher set is available right now for free. 
What fun stuff do you do with your class as part of graphing units or to keep their interest in math? 


  1. I am so glad that you had a good time with it! Thank you for such an amazing review!!

  2. Great ideas here! I might end up using this with something fall for November. I love the variety in what can be reviewed :)

  3. I love the idea of using Christmas candy corn. Looks like a great lesson!

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