Beacon Lesson Plan Library

M & M Counting Fun

Lore Davis
Alachua County Schools


Students count up to 10 or more M&Ms using verbal names and one-to-one correspondence, as well as use sets of M&Ms to represent quantities given in verbal form.


The student counts up to 10 or more objects using verbal names and one-to-one correspondence.

The student reads and writes numerals to 10 or more.

The student uses sets of concrete materials to represent quantities, to 10 or more, given in verbal or written form.


-The [M&Ms Brand Counting Book] By Barbara Barbieri McGrath
-2 large bags of M&Ms candies (14 oz. Or 16 oz.)
-4 bowls containing at least 12 of each color of M&Ms
-1 bowl containing 30 M&Ms to be used by teacher for group activity. (Make sure all colors are located in the bowl.)
-4 work mats (9 in. by 12 in. laminated construction paper)
-8 dice
-1 math journal for each child
-1 dry erase board
-A set of dry erase markers to match the M&M colors
-4 boxes of markers to represent all M&M colors


1. Obtain 2 large bags of M&Ms (14-16 oz.)
2. Have work mats for students. Work mats can be made by laminating sheets of 9 in. by 12 in. construction paper. These make great work mats.
3. Get a copy of the book THE M&M BRAND COUNTING BOOK.
4. Get the following items needed from the materials list: 4 bowls containing at least 12 of each color of M&Ms, 1 bowl containing 30 M&Ms with all M&M colors represented, 1 math journal for each child (make sure each journal has at least 20 white sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch and the cover is made of the same size colored construction paper), 1 dry erase board, 1 set of dry erase markers with colors to match M&Ms, 4 boxes of markers representing all M&M colors.


This is the first lesson in a unit entitled, A Counting We Will Go. Prior to beginning this unit, administer the diagnostic assessment (See Extensions for more information.)

1. Hold up a large bag of M&M candies for the students to see. Next, ask the children the following questions.
How many of you like to eat M&M candies?
What is your favorite color M&M candy?
How many M&M candies do you think you can eat?

2. Then, tell students that today they will begin a math unit which will give them practice identifying numbers from 1-10, writing numbers from 1-10 and counting from 1-10 M&M candies, zoo animal counters, cat counters and fish counters.

3. Tell students that today they will start by identifying numbers and that they will get to use real M&M candies to practice counting. Next, read [The M&M's Brand Counting Book] during small group instruction. Have the children identify the number and count the M&Ms on each page after you read.

4. Next, read the story again and have the children work together to count the M&Ms the way each page indicates. Example: The first page says to pour out the candies. Choose a child to pour the bowl containing 30 M&Ms on a work mat. The next page says to call out the colors. All children may do this. Then, have the children take turns counting the candy as the book did (by color). One child will count the number of red. Another child will count the number of yellow, etc. Some M&Ms have a blue instead of a tan. This substitution can be made. Although the book has the children count, make sets, make shapes, add and subtract, the children will focus on identifying the colors and counting the M&M's poured out on the mat as the first few pages of the book shows. As students work, the teacher should be formatively assessing for ability to use concrete material to count to ten or more using verbal names.

5. Then pour the M&Ms back into the bowl and model rolling a number dice, choosing a certain color M&M and then placing the specified number of M&Ms on a mat. Use a dry erase board and colored dry erase markers to write the number and draw the number of M&M's on the board to match the number rolled on the dice. Next, a student will be chosen to do the same thing. After everyone has had an opportunity to practice this activity, the students will work in cooperative groups of two to continue this activity. As students work, formatively assess for ability to recognize numbers and use concrete material to count to ten or more using verbal names and written numbers.

Group Work:

Give each child a math journal and markers. Give each group a bowl of M&Ms. Have children work in cooperative groups to roll 2 number dice, identify the number, choose an M&M color and count out that number of M&Ms on the mat and then make a record of this in his/her math journal. Example: One child will roll the dice. If the dice shows a total of 8, the child will choose a color M&Ms to use, count out 8 M&Ms and place on the work mat, and then write the number and draw eight M&Ms in that color in his/her math journal. Children will take turns doing this.

1. Have students return to the group and share what they did with their M&M candies in their journals.


Observe student participation.
(As a formative assessment, observe how students work in groups to identify numbers and count from 1-10 M&M candies. This will give you an idea of where students are in understanding these concepts. I ask these questions while I'm observing:
Do students use the M&M's to do the work?
Does the student identify the number on the dice?
Is the student able to count the M&Ms with one-to-one correspondence?


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

2. Following this lesson students could make their own M&M counting book using paper and markers. Crayons or round-colored stickers could also be used. Students would write in order a number on each page.

They would then draw the M&Ms on each page to coincide with the number (Example: On the page with the number “1- they would draw one M&M or put one sticker on that page. On the page with the number “2- they would draw two M&Ms, etc.).

3. Students could also create patterns and graphs with the M&Ms they sorted.

Patterns could be copied or extended by other children. Students could record their patterns. Their recorded patterns could be laminated and placed at a center for others to duplicate. The same could be done for number sentences.
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