Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Coin Probability

Cary Cooley
Lee County School District


Students develop an understanding of probablility by tallying the coins they choose from different bags with different amounts of coins within them. They then predict the amount of coins within each bag according to their tallied results.


The student calculates the probability of a particular event occurring from a set of all possible outcomes.


-Paper bags
-Scrabble (the game) for letters
-Graphs for Centers 3 and 6
-2 Spinners (see center information in extensions)
-2 Jars
-Questions listed in Extensions (for centers)


1. Divide the class by 2...that is how many bags will be needed.
2. If you have say bags then...separate the bags into 5 sets of 3.
3. Put a different amount of coins in all three bags of each set...this will be enough so that all the groups will be working at once and can trade with one another for a different bag.
4. Be sure to mark each bag with a symbol so that you know what is in each bag.
5. Create the following six centers scattered around the room:
1st center- spinner: 4 sections (2 blue, 1 red, and 1 white)
2nd center- jar with letters of the alphabet (3 A's, 1 C, 8 T's)
3rd center-graph: colored bar graph displaying the amount of students in each grade (1st-5th)
4th center- spinner: 2nd spinner with 6 sections (3 with a Square, 2 with Circles, and 1 with triangles)
5th center- 1 jar with different amounts of coins (5 dimes, 2 quarter, and 3 pennies)
6th center-graph: A pie graph showing the percentage of water, ice, and land found on earth.
6. Duplicate the questions in the assessment for each student or write and post them at each center for students to copy/use.


Note: Students should have a basic understanding of percent and fractions before beginning this lesson.

1. Ask the students if they can define probability.

2. Drop the letters A and T into a bag...ask the students what are the chances of pulling out an A?

3. Continue dropping more letters into the bag until they begin to understand the activity. Then ask them if anyone can tell what probability is. (The chance that an event will happen.) Demonstrate how to write probability, ie. 1 out of 2 or 50%; 3 out of 4 or 75%)

4. Have the students pair up and hand out three different types of bags with different amounts of coins in each.

5. Explain to the students that they are to pick a coin out of the bag and tally what was picked 15 times. (Remind the students that they are not to look at the coins and to be sure all of the coins are returned to the bag before they pick another one. Explain that if they don't, the probability of picking the coins will change. You will need to model this with students, including showing them how to keep a written tally record.)

6. The students will do this with three different bags, all with separate tally tables.

7. Write on the board the three different combinations of coins that are in each bag without telling what bag is what.

8. After the learners tally all of their results they will be able to individually predict, according to what they tallied, and then discuss their decisions with their partners.

9. Lead the students into a discussion on their predictions and then show them what was in each bag.

10. Ask the students what probability had to do with the activity.

11. Explain what probability had to do with the activity and why it is so important by relating it to life.

12. Direct students to the six centers. Give classroom rules and expectations about time, clean up, etc. Remind students they will be learning about probability and will have to answer questions as an assessment.


Assess students by using what students do at the 6 centers. Students will have to work individually and choose the probability of something happening at each center.

Assessment: Each student will receive a worksheet with these questions and will use the centers as they answer the questions:

Found at center 1-
1. What is the probability of you spinning and landing on the color blue?
2. What is the probability of you spinning and landing on a white or red tile?

Found at center 2:
3. What is the probability of picking the letter A out of the jar?
4. What is the probability of picking the letter C out of the jar?

Found at center 3:
5. If the principal is going to choose from a hat one student from all of the classes 1st through 5th grade...What are the chances that she will choose someone from the 4th grade?
6. What grade of students have the best chance of the student being chosen from their class? Why?

Found at center 4:
7. What is the probability of spinning this spinner and landing on a triangle?
8. What is the probablitiy of spinning this spinner and landing on a shape? Why?

Found at center 5:
9. What is the probability that you will pick a quarter out of this jar?
10. If you pick a dime out of this jar and do not put it back in...What are the chances that you will pick a dime on the next pick?

Found at center 6:
1. If you were to fall out of space and land somewhere on Earth...Where would you be most likely to land? Water, Land, or Ice? Why?
2. If Earth was a spinner...what would be the probability of the spinner landing on land?

*There can easily be different tests made with different questions based on the same centers.


This could be connected to social studies by students collecting data on different countries, as well as science by observing animals and recording events.
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