January 14, 2016

Fraction Action: Skittles Math!

Happy Monday everyone! Today I'd like to share a little about my math unit on fractions!

It’s all about fractions and how to identify them based on the number of equal parts they are divided into (i.e. halves, fourths, sixths, eighths, etc.). Students begin to identify fractions within a set and what better way to do that than using candy?! Some teachers use M&Ms but I personally like Skittles because they don't melt and get as sticky but both work just as well.

Fractions can be a very tricky concept to teach these little guys, but getting them engaged is half the battle!


First, I like to make things visual and I do this by randomly picking 5 students and have them stand in the front of the class. Students must observe the 5 students I picked and must determine what is in common with them. For example, I may have chosen 3 girls and 2 boys to represent the fraction 3/5 being girls and 2/5 being boys or maybe 4 wearing sneakers and only 1 wearing boots to show 4/5 and 1/5. The kids always tend to like that activity and it poses a bit of a challenge for them.

Guided Practice:

After that initial activity I introduce how we can identify fractions within a given set. This requires students to be familiar with how to write fractions and what the numerator and denominator are within a fraction. For this I like to use Scholastic's free StudyJams videos to help give the students an idea about how to write fractions. BrainPopJr is another great site for kids but that requires a subscription.

Guided/Independent Practice:

Then on to the fun! After you've built up some background knowledge students can engage with their learning through this hands on activity. I called mine Fraction Action: Skittles Math! Make sure you've discussed with your class that students aren't to eat the Skittles since many students' hands have been all over them and we use them for learning, not eating. Last year at the end of the activity I did hand out mini bags of Skittles for them to take home, which helped their impulse to eat them during class.

I have created this little student handout for them to use to track their fractions during the activity. The goal is for them to see how fractions are present within a set and ours being their bag of skittles. I only use 10 skittles total since I just scoop the candies from a massive bag versus always buying the mini pre-packaged bags. It also helps me differentiate for different groups of students.

I love the graphing because who doesn’t like a little graphing practice mixed in?