Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Skittles™ in the Middle

Peggy Christian


Entice students using candy to determine a mean of a set of real world data.. Students work in small groups, using bags of Skittles™ to determine the mean of one color of Skittles™ found in each bag, in each group, and in the entire class.


The student identifies the mean, median and mode from a set of data.


- Small bags of Skittles for each student
- Copies of "Skittles in the Middle" Checklist for each student
- Overhead projector
- Calculators for each student
- Four clear plastic cups


1. Obtain small bags of Skittles™, 1 bag per student.
2. Obtain four, clear plastic cups.
3. Obtain calculators, 1 per student.
4 Copy the "Skittles in the Middle" Checklist,1 per student. (see associated files)


1. Place four, clear plastic cups on display and empty a small package of Skittles™ candy into each cup.

2. Ask the students if they have ever wondered about how many Skittles™ of a certain color may be in a package of Skittles™.

3. Direct different students to count the number of green Skittles™ found in each cup as they place the green Skittles™ in a pile. Record each number on an overhead projector.

4. Explain that the mean, or average, of this set of data can be determined by adding to get the sum of the Skittles™ and dividing the sum by the number of addends, which is four.

5. Calculate the mean on the overhead, demonstrating the procedure for the students. If there is a remainder of one, use the quotient as the mean. However, if there is a remainder of two or three, explain that the quotient should be rounded up because the remainder is at least 1/2 of 4, the divisor.

6. Demonstrate another way of finding the mean by placing all the green Skittles™ into one pile, and then separate them into four equal size groups. The remainder of the Skittles™, greater than one, can be distributed among the other four groups, showing that over half of the groups contain the rounded up number.

7. Separate the students into groups of four students each then distribute the "Skittles in the Middle" Checklist and a small bag of Skittles™ to each student.

8. Review the calculation requirements on the checklist with the students. Explain that the students will work in each group to determine the mean number of green Skittles™ within their group, and record their results on the checklist for assessment purposes.

9. Circulate about the classroom as students work together determining their group's mean, and give students feedback as needed.

10. Pose the question, "What if another bag of Skittles™ was added to each group? How might this affect the mean?"

11. Invoke answers such as, "The divisor would change to five, and the mean number could be greater, less, or equal to the present mean. It would depend on how many green Skittles™ were in the fifth bag."

12. Students record their response to this question on the worksheet section of the “Skittles in the Middle” Checklist.

13. Pose the question, "How could we go about determining the mean number of green Skittles™ in the whole classroom?"

14. Invoke answers such as, “Calculate, the sum of the green Skittles™ found in each group of students, and divide the sum by the number of groups in the classroom."

15. Ask each group to report the number of green Skittles™ they found and record the numbers on the overhead projector.

16. Explain to the students that they should use this data to record their calculations on the worksheet section of the “Skittles in the Middle Checklist.

17. Circulate about the classroom as students determine the class mean of green Skittles™ and give feedback as necessary.


Note: Students know how to divide using a one digit divisor with a possible remainder.
Students use a checklist of criteria to determine the mean number of a specific color of candies found in packages of Skittles. Formatively assess students' procedures and accuracy demonstrated by their calculations shown on the Skittles in the Middle Checklist.


1. Students can work in groups of four to determine the mean number of another color of Skittles and compare the mean to the green Skittles.
2. Students can determine the range, median, and mode of a specific color of Skittles found in two groups of four students combined. Note:Instruction for determining median and mode would have to be covered in the lesson.
3. Students can compare the mean number of each color of Skittles found per bag and explain why a certain color may have a greater mean than other colors.

Attached Files

Skittles in the Middle Checklist     File Extension: pdf

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