While teaching elementary probability, explaining the concepts in a way in which the kids are able to grasp the arithmetic involved gets crucial. This subject lends itself to many interactive activities and demonstrations, which may be a lot of fun.
Probability is a difficult concept, but making your kids learn it from the lower classes helps them with the advanced concepts in higher grades. Math is a subject that needs practice and a lot of hands-on learning. And for this, teachers can inculcate new and complex topics using activities and games.
Children learn probability best when given practical opportunities to see it in action. You may engage your kids in numerous enjoyable games and activities in the classroom. These offer chances to discover what probability is and how to apply that knowledge to anticipate the future or make judgments. They will be able to respond to queries like “How probable is this to happen?” and “What is the likelihood that this will occur?”
Probability- Understanding the essence!
Probability is the estimation of the extent to which an event can occur. This value is measured as a ratio of the beneficial cases to the total number of outcomes possible. Say, we can talk about the probability of 1 when a dice is rolled. Since there are 6 outcomes, the probability can be estimated to be ⅙.
While this is the general concept behind probability, there are four different approaches that are commonly used. They are:
- Classical Approach: This approach simply marks out the total and favorable outcomes. Accordingly, it can be conceptually explained easily as this approach deals with a limited set of total outcomes. For example, if one considers the probability of odd numbers in a rolled die, the ratio is 3/6, where the total number of outcomes (6) can be easily discerned.
- Empirical Approach: Also called an experimental approach, this is where the details of the outcomes are not completely known. Assume the dice is rolled, but details like the number of times and how it is rolled is not known.
- Subjective Approach: This approach is basically a person’s personal opinion about something happening. The probability varies from one person to another. Say, one person may feel that a team can win a football match with a 50% probability. The opinion may vary for another person.
- Axiomatic Approach: It is a broad concept whose values can be instantaneously determined by classical or Empirical approaches. There are three important axioms/ criteria of this probability approach. First, the probability lies between 0 to 1. Second, A certain event has a probability of 1. And Third, the union of multiple non-linked probabilities is always the sum of these events.
Even though knowing about all these probabilities is important, school students can take advantage of each approach in different situations.
Activities to learn probability- Our suggestions for schoolers!
Here are some activities the experts suggest are not only easy but also effective in sharpening the concept-related insights.
1. M&M For Probability
Before the kids eat the candy, you might want to ask them to play with it. Here, we’ll use the probability idea to provide value. The instructor first brings a pack or two of candy, such as Skittles or M&Ms. They must make sure that there should be multiple candies of different colors but the same shape.
- Place all chocolates on a plate and segregates them according to their colors. Say the teacher has chocolates of 5 colors.
- Now ask the children to count chocolates as they put one each in a paper bag. This way, learners can make out how many candies go into the bag.
- Pick one random candy from the bag and puts it in the student’s pocket.
- Children can take paper and pen to make estimations (to get answers 1/5). The next step is that they need to write the answers on a sheet and then show it to the teacher.
- Evaluate each of them and gives one candy to each student with the right answer.
For the first time, a teacher can demonstrate the calculation to explain to students. They can increase the complexity by changing the numbers. This activity is simple and can be used as icebreakers, brain breaks, or even as after-school activities.
2. Arrange the probables
Teachers here procure several Cuisenaire rods of 4 different sizes or colors and a bag to hold them.
- Start showing the students how many of each color/size are put into the bag to start. Say, they place 4 red, 2 blue, 3 yellow, and 5 green rods in it.
- The student identifies the color of the rod, places it at the center of the page, and writes the probability of this color below it. Say, if the rod is red, the probability is 2/7
- The learner again picks another rod and sees its color.
This activity adds a sequential flavor to the probability learning lesson and makes an effective session with Cuisenaire rods, making the understanding better for the young learners.
3. Rocky and Paper Scissors
Rock, paper, and Scissors is the most loved game among children. The game’s outcomes can be used to bring out the right results. Students must procure a piece of paper with a tabulation for 25 outcomes and a pencil.
- Divide the entire class into pairs.
- Ask each pair to play Rock Paper Scissors for 25 times.
- For each iteration, the outcomes are noted. Each entry will be one of these three
- <Player 1> Won
- <Player 2> Won, or
- Once all the 25 values are documented, the pair sits to evaluate the probability of winning and drawing.
- Finally, they can come up with three probability values of the three entries given above and submit the sheet to the teacher to complete.
4. Color the Teddy
Everyone likes to color as it involves using different shades which calms the mind. In this activity, students get a unique way of answering- through drawing. To start with, the teacher makes a sheet of five probability questions on the left side and a teddy picture with just outlines. All the questions in the sheet are related to 5 colors. The answer to each question determines the color to be applied to each part of the teddy bear.
The figure is divided into 5 parts: head. Body, hand, legs, and stomach. Also, each question is tagged with one of these parts to address.
- To start, students get ready with 5 color pens as depicted in the question.
- Say one question is, “There are 5 red, 4 green, 5 blue, 3 white, and 3 yellow balls. Whose probability is ⅕? “ with the tag “Head”. Since the answer here is green, the student has to color the head green.
- Similarly, they answer all other questions to complete the picture.
- The teacher evaluates the submission to grade the student out of 5 points.
5. Vocabulary Game
Talk about the propensity for events to occur and utilize words related to probability. For instance, instruct the kids to draw a line on their whiteboards with “certain” at one end and “impossible” at the other.
Then, instruct students to mark their responses to questions such as “What is the likelihood that it will be overcast tomorrow?” and “How probable is it that we will be given pizza in the cafeteria tomorrow?”
6. Dig the Domino’s
Let’s try making the kids enjoy learning the concept of probability with dominoes. All you need to do is take a cloth bag and put different color dominoes inside it.
Now call each child one by one and make them take out two dominoes and guess which color might come in their hand.
Play the game with every child and let them analyze who gave the maximum correct answers. Your class is going to love the game and will surely go home and try it out with their parents too.
7. Probability Bingo
For this activity, the teacher can involve students to make up the items needed to play Probability bingo. First up, the teacher would need a dice, and on each side of the dice, the teacher needs to put a different colour paper. Next, each student can be instructed to make a big box with 25 small boxes inside. It should look something like this:
Now, the students can be given code words like BG= green, BB=Blue, BR= Red, BK= Black, BW= White, and BP= Pink. Next up, the teacher would roll the dice and call out the colour that comes, for example, green. The student will write down the code BG in the first box. The game will go on for 24 more times, till all the boxes are filled.
Next, the students will have to take out the probability of each color, on a separate sheet of paper. The catch here can be that the first three students who submit their right answers can be the winners of the game.
8. Probability with Cards
This game involves the use of a deck of cards, so it’s best for the teacher to be equipped with the same before organizing this activity. For this activity, the students will first choose a suit- either heart, diamond, spade, or club. Then, the teacher can allow them to choose a card from the deck. If they get the card with the suit that they have chosen. For example, if they chose spade, and the 5 of spade came, they get a point. However, if it doesn’t, the teacher gets the point.
The catch in the game is that the kids will all assemble and pick just 1 suit, for example, a diamond. Each kid will walk to the teacher’s table and pick a card, and see who wins- the child or the teacher.
After the game, the teacher and the students evaluate who is the winner. The teacher should now ask the students about the probability of winning the game, as a deck has only 5 of one suit. Therefore, the students must calculate the winning probability of both, the students and the teacher, and evaluate why the winning party won.
The teacher can reward the student with the best and the most informative answer.
Before we wind up..
By using techniques that children find appealing and thrilling, you may let your kids play and learn at the same time. These recommendations for probability games can make the kids embark on a great learning journey where learning can be inculcated through a few fun activities. These can be conducted during activity hours, birthday parties, and even during holidays when parents might feel that the child will lose touch with their studies.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,