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"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Probability Games

The understanding that students are expected to gain by playing probability games is that some events are more likely to occur than others. Probability games can help them compile their own data, search for patterns that help them predict probable outcomes and use the patterns they see to generate rules for making such predictions. They, of course, don't translate their rules or patterns into formal ratios usually associated with probability yet. Simple statements about the range of answers anticipated in a given situation are all that is expected.
We have seen the bell curve appear naturally while playing a probability game with 12 variables.

We have also played a probability game with three variables, in which they had to discover that the one variable was clearly more prominent. It was learned that this game actually had four variables, instead of three.

For this next probability game I followed Love 2 Learn 2day 's example,  and put 20 colored cubes into our "Probability Pouch" ( you could make this pouch or this pouch use any container that will hold your tokens and that the student can reach in without seeing the container's contents) and it was James' job to try to figure out how many of each color was in the pouch. I didn't tell him what or how many colors I'd used...only that 20 tokens were in the pouch. The rule was that he must shake the bag and to put the game markers back in the bag after each draw. After every 10th draw, I asked him to stop, look at the data he'd collected so far, and predict what he might get over the next ten draws.
Which colors would you draw least?
Which the most?
 Look at the data again. Is there any pattern to it?
How many of each did you think you'd get?
Was it possible that there was another color in the bag?
What do you think the bag contains? Why?
How many more of one color did you have than another color?
Do you want to change your prediction?
For the first 10 draws, he got 4 red and 6 blue. He predicted that the bag held 10 red, 8 blue and 2 of another color.
For his second 10 draws, he got 4 red, 5 blues and 1 yellow. He predicted that the bag held 11 red, 8 blue and 1 yellow.
For his third 10 draws, he got 7 red, 2 blue and 1 yellow. He predicted that the bag held 13 red, 6 blue and 1 yellow.
For his fourth 10 draws, he got 6 red, 3 blue and 1 yellow.
His final prediction was that the bag held was 12 red, 6 blue and 2 yellow, which was exactly what was in the bag.
He was delighted to find out that his predictions all along were not far from the actual amount, and that his final prediction was right on the mark.
What a lovely and fun way to teach probability and he is asking to play again!

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm...I never cared for probability lessons as a child, but this approach looks promising, not only fun, but easy to understand.

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  2. Probability is so important in life. I love how hands on all the activities are and how it's left to the child to discover it! I'll be looking back to this when K is a little older. Thanks for linking!

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