The word “probability” reminds me of college statistics just like data analysis did last week. You might think that the principles of probability are not introduced mathematically to children until middle school – but actually they can and should be introduced much earlier.
Young children like to think about the “chance” of something happening. Introducing and using language like “likely” or “unlikely” will help the children think about the predictability of an occurrence. How often something happens will help define the likelihood of it happening again. So, if you apply this with children , you can discuss the likelihood of events that are familiar and frequent in their lives. Start with the easiest examples, such as asking a child who will come and pick them up today, mommy or daddy? Based on their prior experiences they can predict who will come. As children get better and better at predicting you can ask them to choose between three choices; i.e., which fruit are we probably having for lunch? Bananas, apples, or oranges? Even though they can’t actually predict, they can begin to look for trends and patterns which will support their ability to explore probability.
Next week I want to talk about probability using manipulatives such as dice, spinners and coins.