We spent a few days exploring probability through games. We discussed the likelihood of a dice or spinner landing on the number three, and the probability of choosing a red card out of a deck of 52 cards. We put 10 blue cubes and one orange cube in a bag and asked the children to describe the likelihood of pulling out a blue or orange cube without looking.
We played a coin-tossing game where we predicted and recorded in a table how many times a toonie would land on the queen or the polar bear after 12 tosses. Using facts we already know and the math skills we have already learned, we estimated that the coin would land on each side six times. This is a great prediction, and the children had a clear understanding that it was not certain that the toonie would land precisely “heads” up half the time and “tails” up half the time. It is possible (but unlikely) that all 12 coin tosses could have landed on "tails."
Stuart J. Murphy’s storybook, Probably Pistachio, was an excellent tool for fostering a link between literature and mathematical ideas. During the course of one very bad day, the main character, Jack, uses probability to predict what will be packed in his lunch, whether he’ll be placed on the same soccer team as his best friend, and if his mom will serve his favourite ice cream for dessert. The book uses mathematical terminology and contains illustrations, charts, and graphs that explain probability. Learning how to make informed predictions helps children analyze data in order to make wise decisions.