Halloween Candy Math Sort

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These little tricksters got lots of candy last night.

Call me sneaky, but I like to capitalize on my kid's excitement and desire to appreciate and admire their post-Halloween candy stash. This is going to be a fun math day for sure!

I suggest they sort their piles of candy any way they saw fit.  They could sort them into piles of types: chocolates, sours, suckers,etc.  Or they they could have sorted them into piles of shapes: rectangles, squares, circles, etc.  They could have sorted them into brands: Hershey's, Willa Wonka, Mars, etc.  Or even by kinds: Hershey's, Reese's, M&M's, Sweetarts, etc. 

As you can see, the most popular way to sort in our house was by kinds. 

After the sorting is done, I ask them to count the different piles using tally marks.

My middle daughter counted 48 tally marks for Reese's candies! Wow!  She sure made a haul!

After tally marks were finished, I helped them set up multiplication problems using the total tally marks as the product.  I asked them to find the two different numbers that, when multiplied together, would result in that product. 

Ok....so up until that point, the girls had no idea at all that they were embarking on a multiplication lesson.  But considering the use of candy manipulatives, they didn't seem to mind at all once they did realize it!

My second-grade daughter was having so much fun that when she finished, she also chose 5 different candies that resembled each other in size.  Then, she made a physical bar graph, using the candies.  Butterfinger was the clear winner.  Sorry, Crunchbar.  You lose.  But when she combined the Hershey's with the Crunchbar together, it resulted in an answer equal to the amount of Snickers. Very interesting and fun!

My oldest daughter participated in all the above activities, but she also was itching to know how many candies she had altogether, so she proceeded to then count up ALL her tally marks. But FIRST, I made her estimate how many candies she thought she had.  She thinks she has 200 pieces!  Wow....I know our dentist sure hopes she is exaggerating here!  Stay tuned for the exact number of candies! (UPDATE: Well, it turns out Liv wasn't exaggerating at al!  In fact, she counted even more than 200 candies!  Her total number was 279 candies, to be exact.)

Our preschool little gal sorted up her candies without any help from anyone.  She was very confident in her method and I think she did such a great job! 

For older kids, you could have them use the tally marks as the answers to division problems, or explore statistics and probability by pulling candies from a bag.  See my lesson using unifix cubes to do just that!