## Probability Jar

In this lesson, children will examine three different jars filled with marbles and determine the probability of choosing various colored marbles.

### Lesson for:

Toddlers/Preschoolers

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

### Content Area:

Data Analysis and Probability

### Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers **meet the following educational standards**:

- Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize and display relevant data to answer these questions
- Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data

### Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be **more proficient** at:

- Sorting and classifying objects according to their attributes and organizing data about objects
- Discussing events related to children’s experiences as likely or unlikely

## Probability Jar

### Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

#### Step 1: Gather materials.

**Six jars or clear cups filled with different-colored marbles or colored manipulatives**- A jar containing only blue marbles
- A jar containing only green marbles
- A jar containing three yellow marbles, one green marble and one blue marble
- A jar containing only red marbles
- A jar containing three green marbles, one yellow marble and one blue marble
- A jar containing only orange marbles

(You can also use pictures of gumball machines with different-colored gumballs. You will not need a lot of marbles or gumballs for the containers.)

**Three probability cards**labeled: Certain, Possible, Impossible

**Note**: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

#### Step 2: Introduce activity.

- Give the children a working definition of
**probability**—the chance that something is going to happen.**Explain**that today they are going to explore the concept of**probability**. **Explain**that today they are going to each pick marbles from a jar and decide on the**probability**of picking a certain color.

#### Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

**1. Provide examples for each of the probability cards**:

**Using the jar containing only blue marbles, ask**: “What is the **probability **that I will pick a blue marble? Is it **certain** that I will pick a blue marble? Is it **possible** that I might pick a blue marble? Or is it **impossible** to pick a blue marble? Since the marbles are all blue, it is **certain** that I will pick a blue marble.” Have a child pick a marble out of the jar and respond to the marble that he/she chooses. (Certain) Place the “**Certain**“** **card** **in front of the jar.

**Using the jar containing only orange marbles, ask**: “What is the **probability** that I will pick a blue marble? Is it **certain **that I will pick a blue marble? Is it **possible** that I might pick a blue marble? Or is it **impossible** to pick a blue marble out of this jar of all orange marbles?” Again, have a child pick a marble out of the jar and respond to the marble that he/she chooses. (Impossible) Place the “**Impossible**” card in front of the jar.

**Using the jar containing three green marbles, one yellow marble and one blue marble, ask**: “What is the **probability **that I will pick out a green marble? Is it **certain** that I will pick out a green marble? Is it **possible** that I might pick out a green marble? Or is it **impossible **to pick out a green marble?” Have a child pick a marble out of the jar and respond to the marble that he/she chooses. (Possible) **Explain **that it is **possible** to** **pick out a green marble, but it is not **certain** because one could also pick out a yellow marble or a blue marble. **Say**: “The chances are higher that I will pick out a green marble, but they are not **certain** because there are other colored marbles in the jar.” Place the”**Possible**” card in front of the jar.

**2. Pose questions to the children about each of the jars** and the **probability** of picking certain colored marbles. Have the children take turns answering the questions and placing the probability cards in front of each jar after each of the questions.

**Additional Extensions**

Make individual cards or a recording sheet with pictures of the various jar combinations and questions about the **probability** of picking out a specific colored marble. Make room for the answer. Allow the children to work on and answer the cards individually. When everyone is finished with their work, bring the children together to talk about their answers.

#### Step 4: Vocabulary.

**Probability**: The chance that something is going to happen (e.g.,”What is the**probability**that I will pick out a green marble?”)**Certain**:**certain**that I will pick out a green marble?”)**Impossible**: No chance that a particular event will happen (e.g.,”Is it**impossible**to pick a blue marble out of this jar of all orange marbles?”)**Possible**:**possible**that I might pick a green marble out of the jar?”)

#### Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

##### Adapt Lesson for Toddlers

###### Toddlers may:

- Not yet grasp the concept of
*probability*

###### Child care providers may:

- Just begin with
**certain**and**impossible**and only show the jars and ask the questions that would result in the children answering**certain**or**impossible** - After reviewing
**certain**and**impossible**, build**possible**into the repertoire of questioning

##### Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers

###### Preschoolers may:

- Work independently

###### Child care providers may:

- Make individual cards or a recording sheet with pictures of the various jar combinations and questions about the
**probability**of picking out a specific colored marble. Make room for the answer. Allow the children to work on and answer the cards individually. When everyone is finished with their work, bring the children together to talk about their answers.

### Suggested Books

by Bruce Goldstone (New York: Henry Holt and Co, 2013)*That’s a Possibility!: A Book About What Might Happen*by Jean Cushman (New York: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2007)*Do You Wanna Bet? Your Chance to Find Out About Probability*by Edward Finhorn (Boston, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2008)*A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure*

### Music and Movement

**Many students learn through music**. Witness the number of adults who easily sing the ABC song with their own children. Composers are beginning to develop math-specific songs to help students learn math concepts and skills. Whether teachers use a song to introduce or reinforce a concept or as a regular part of calendar time, students are bound to benefit from the multisensory experiences featured.

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