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Probability Activities Roundup

April 28, 2021 No Comments

Probability is such a fun math unit to teach elementary students! I love teaching probability by incorporating lots of real world examples and using experiments and games to explore chance and outcomes. There are so many engaging ways to teach students to determine the probability of an event!

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite low-prep probability activities to use with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Many of these activities use simple items that you probably already have in your classroom or at home.

Hands-on Probability Games

My students have loved doing rotations of different probability experiments and games. And the stations can be super easy! For example, how many outcomes are there when you flip a coin? Record your chance of getting a heads up if you flip one time. Now flip a coin 50 times and record your data in a tally chart. How does your data compare to your prediction?

You can create a simple recording sheet for each station for students to track and analyze data. I like to have students make predictions before starting the experiment, so they have something to compare their results to. That gives them practice determining all the possible outcomes of an event. You can also have small groups share their results to see how the whole class compares.

Here are a few low-prep stations you can set up:

  • flip a coin
  • roll a die (you can use dice with more than 6 sides for a bigger challenge)
  • pull a card from a deck
  • pull a marble from a bag (or a colored counter, block, etc.)
  • spin a spinner (you can make one with a pencil and paper clip or pull one from a board game)
  • pull a piece of candy from a bag (skittles, M&Ms)

You can play probability games virtually, too. You can even roll a die and flip a coin right in Google search!

Probability Vocabulary Activities

I want students to be able to describe the probability of a single event as a fraction, on a number line, and by using probability vocabulary (certain, likely, equally likely, unlikely, and impossible). If you’re teaching 5th or 6th grade, you may want to also include percentages.

This printable and digital probability sorting activity is a great hands-on pre-test, review, or assessment to check students’ understanding of probability terms.

probability sort

Another fun activity to reinforce probability terms is to play a game of 4 corners (or 5 corners if you want to include all 5 terms). Students can move to different areas of the room based on the likelihood of different events (i.e., what is the chance it will snow today?).

You can also print out different probability examples and have students make a human number line to show the chance of each event happening.

Digital Probability Activities

I love these probability task cards in Google Slides since they give students comprehensive practice with lots of real-world scenarios. Click play to take a look!

Boom cards are another great digital option to review probability. I love that these task cards are self-correcting and that it’s so easy to track student progress.

digital probability task cards on iPad

Probability Read-alouds

I always love incorporating picture books into my math instruction. Here are a couple of books that you can use as you’re teaching probability lessons:

book cover
That’s a Possibility! A Book about What Might Happen by Bruce Goldstone
book cover
A Very Improbable Story by Edward Einhorn
book cover
Probably Pistachio by Stuart J. Murphy

Teaching probability to upper elementary students gives us so many opportunities for fun, engaging learning. What other favorite probability games and activities do you like to use in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade?

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