Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Probability Popsicle Pop-ups

Stacy Durham


Students decorate and use popsicle sticks as manipulatives to assist with their learning of probability.


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

The student identifies and records using common fractions, the possible outcomes of simple experiments using concrete materials (for example, spinners, number cubes, coin toss).

The student determines and predicts which outcomes are likely to occur and expresses those expected outcomes as fractions.

The student creates an appropriate graph to display data (for example, pictographs, bar graphs, line graphs, circle graphs).


-12 popsicle sticks per child
-Permanent markers or tempera paint
-Notebook paper
-Colored pencils
-Art paper to be used to cover the students' desks
-Art paper or graph paper for each student


1. Obtain twelve popsicle sticks for each student
2. Obtain enough tempera paint and paint brushes or permanent markers for each student to have two colors.
3. Obtain art paper to cover the students' desks.
4. Have enough art or graph paper for the groups to create their graphs on.
5. Print out enough copies of the attached file for each student


Day 1
1.Explain to the students that the class will make manipulatives that will be used in math lessons all year. Tell them that they need to listen carefully and not to work ahead.

2. Show an example of what the finished product should look like. There are only two colors used in the project. More than that and it will become confusing!

3. Students will paint or color one side of their popsicle sticks with ONE color.

4. After that side has dried, they can then flip the sticks over and paint the other side a DIFFERENT color.

5.Pass out decorating materials to each student. ( 12 popsicle sticks, markers or paint and art paper to cover the top of the students' work area)

6. Walk around the room and make sure that the students are following directions.

Day 2

1. Introduce probability to the students. Discuss terminology such as data, outcome, mean, median and mode, and stem and leaf plot.
2. Demonstrate the use of the popsicle sticks as probability tools. Hold up 5 of the sticks popsicle sticks. Ask the students - What is the probability that one of the sticks that I drop will land on the red side?-
3. Record the students' responses on the chalkboard.
4. Mention that you have a total of 5 sticks and that there are 6 possible outcomes. List the outcomes on the board. (0 red sticks , 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 red sticks)
5. Drop the sticks on a desktop. Discuss the results. Record the results on the board.
6. Repeat this process 10 times. Record all of your results on the board.
7. Show the class how to find the mean, median and mode. Demonstrate how to put this information into a stem and leaf plot. Why is this important when working with probability?
8. Ask the class about the different ways that you could chart your results.( Line graph , bar graph, pictograph)

Day 3

9. After the students understand the concept of probability, divide the students into groups. Be sure to place advanced students with slower learners so that they can help one another . The groups can then drop and record their sticks on their own. Tell them that they need to have at least 10 drops to indicate the probability.
10. On a sheet of graph paper, have the groups graph the probability of the drops. (Students should create their own graphs so that you can assess the activity.)
11. Next, have the students complete the attached worksheet (see file). On this sheet, they will record the results of the activity, they will create a stem and leaf plot and then, find the mean, median and mode of their results.


Assessments can be done from any or all of the following:

Walk around the classroom, observing each student as they work. Elicit discussions with the groups on why probability is important and how it is used in everyday life. Grade the studentís stem and leaf chart, mean, median, and mode, and the graphs for accuracy.


This lesson could be modified for advanced learners by having them to predict outcomes before the actual trials are done- How many sticks do you think
will turn up red? For less advanced students, you might want to cut out the stem and leaf plots and mean, median and modes. They could stick with basic bar graphs.

These popsicle sticks can be used in many activities throughout the year! Fractions and probability are just two suggestions.

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Probability Lesson Plans

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