Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Meaning of the Mean

MAdele Carson
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students use candy to learn about mean, median, mode, and range.


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

The student uses a calculator to determine the range and mean of a set of data.


-Individual calculators
-Pencil and paper
-Jar or basket of wrapped candy


1. The teacher needs to gather calculators--at least one per group.
2. Have a jar or basket of wrapped candy ready for use.


1. Divide the students into groups of 6-10.

2. Tell the students that they are going to practice finding the range, mean, mode, and median with handfuls of candy.

3. Review how to find the range, median, mean, and mode using the numbers 4, 5, 3, 7, and 7. The mean is another word for average. (adding the numbers of a series together and dividing by the number in the series). The median is simply the middle number in a series of odd numbers. In a series of even numbers, it is the number midway between the two middle numbers. The mode is the number that occurs the most frequently. The range is the difference between the smallest and largest numbers which you find by subtracting.

4. Have a student from each group grab a handful of the candy from the jar. Without divulging the number of pieces, have the students in each group guess the number. Once each student has written the guess down, the candy will be counted.

5. Using the guesses of each group member, the students use their calculators to find the range and mean for their group. To find the range, they will find the difference between the highest number and the lowest number. To find the mean, they will add the guesses and divide by the number of group members. The students will find the mode and median.

6. Replace the candy in the jar. Have another student from each group grab as much candy as he can with two hands.

7. The students again guess the amount of candy and use their guesses to find the range, median, mode, and mean.


Using the guesses from their groups, the students are assessed on their ability to find the range, mode, median, and mean. Students who have difficulty can be paired with other students or work directly with the teacher.


Use other activities to gather data to find the mean, etc. The students could guess the length of a common object in the room (eraser, sentence strip, flag pole).
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