Need a fun and delicious post- Halloween math activity? You’ve got to try graphing candy. It’s a simple, silly way for young children to play with math and enjoy their candy at the same time. It’s a great way to finish off Halloween.
Can kids really graph candy?
A graph is just a fancy way to organize information. This gives kids a way to see data, quantify it, and understand it better. It helps to easily identify math concepts like more, less, and same/equal.
My kids and I play with graphs all the time, but making it a post Halloween candy graph really takes it over the top.
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- Candy (choose a few types and vary the number/amount of each)
- Excited post-Halloween kids
I decided to make this a large scale activities and taped out a graph on our family room floor. I used blue painter’s tape – which worked great.
I made a base line and vertical columns (enough columns for each type of candy we’d be graphing).
Starting your candy graph
With my kids (ages 3 and 21 months old), I picked out four candy types to graph and made sure to have a varying number of each type.
I also made sure not to have a higher amount than they could touch and count. Having too many candy bars would have overwhelmed them. I kept the numbers on the small side.
Task 1: Sort the candy
My tots sorted the candy into the four columns. They started by just making piles for each type of candy.
Sorting is a big concept in the early years – they’re recognizing similarities, differences, and categorizing based on attributes. It’s bigger than it appears!
Once they finished, I lined the candy bars evenly just as they would be in a traditional graph. Older children may be able to line up the candy on their own, but at my kids’ ages, I needed to do this and model the process for them.
Task 2: Answering questions about the graph
Asking and answering questions about the graph is the meat and potatoes of this activity. Sure, you can make or look at a graph – but can you actually use that graph to understand the data?
Here’s a sample of some of the questions I asked my kids:
- How many candy bars are in each column?
- How many candy bars are there altogether?
- Which candy bar do we have the most of?
- Which candy bar do we have the least of?
- How many more Snickers bars are there than Butterfingers?
Activities like this have so much longevity – I used to do this very activity with first graders. Graphing is a great skill for kids to learn, and isn’t nearly as daunting as it may sound at first.
If you don’t have a variety of candy bars lying around, consider graphing the contents of an M&M or Skittles packet.
This may be a simple activity but it’s an activity that packs a punch: sorting, organizing a set of data, answering questions about a graph, using 1:1 correspondence, etc.
Graphing is a great easy math activity and one of my favorites!
Frequently Asked Questions
No – but we had made a plan before starting that they could each pick one to eat at the end. They pre-selected their candy before ever building the graph so they knew exactly what was coming. They weren’t nervous or concerned about the candy while it was being used as a math manipulative. They knew what was coming.
It depends on the child. My daughter was 21 months old here, but she was getting a second-kid bonus with help from her 3.5 year old big brother. Think stages not ages: consider your child and where they are at mathematically. Would they enjoy this? Would they be able to do parts of the activity with you?
Use a pack of skillets or M&Ms and build a construction paper sized graph. When I was a teacher, I would often do this with my students at their desks as part of “munchie math.”