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5 Ideas For Exploring Chance

We’ve come to the last week of my month long math games and activities series. I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the fab ideas I’ve shared so far. If you’d…


We’ve come to the last week of my month long math games and activities series. I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the fab ideas I’ve shared so far. If you’d like to find all of the games and activities, then you can click here.

To wrap up the series I’ll spend the next few days sharing ideas for teaching chance and data. First up, here are some good ways to introduce the idea of chance to your students, as well as some of the specific vocabulary that you can use with your students.

Chance Vocabulary

The following activities will help your students to use everyday language associated with chance events. Your students will be introduced to the following vocabulary:

  • Fair and not fair;
  • Lucky and no chance;
  • Always and sometimes;
  • It might happen and probably;
  • Possible and impossible;
  • Certain and uncertain;
  • More likely, most likely and least likely.

1. Could, will or won’t

Ask your students to list activities that could, will or won’t happen after school today. They must also explain why. You could also extend this by giving students activity cards that show different events. Events could include:

  • Riding a bike;
  • Watching television;
  • Playing in the rain;
  • Going to the movies; and
  • Going to school.

Get your students to sort the cards into piles depending on whether the event could happen, will happen or won’t happen tomorrow. Ask them why they think that?

2. Certain or uncertain

Using cards again, get your students to classify the following situations as certain or uncertain.

  • A glass plate will break if dropped;
  • You roll a die and get an 8;
  • You draw a green marble from a bag of red marbles;
  • You get either a head or a tail when you toss a coin;
  • It will rain tomorrow;
  • Tomorrow I will be a day older;
  • Tomorrow I will be a day younger; and
  • Our teacher will come to school with purple hair.

Ask your students: what factors do you need to think about when you make a decision?

3. Timetables

Have your students create a timetable showing what they expect to happen on the next day of school. Have students compare their timetables. Ask them: are you certain about any of these events? How can you be certain? Which events are you uncertain about? What do you need to know to be certain that they will happen?

4. Chance cards

Have a set of chance cards made up with different likelihoods: certain, uncertain, very likely, likely and very unlikely. Students select one of the cards. Then on their own blank card get them to write an example of a situation that matches the chance card they selected. Get them to share and justify the situation that they wrote.

5. Chance expressions

Use the following expressions and get your students to suggest events that will fit some of the expressions. Have them work in pairs and argue why they think so.

  • A small chance, quite certain, more than likely, a good chance, almost certain, not much chance and highly improbable.
  • Extremely likely, a very good chance, very likely, fairly likely, in all probability, highly unlikely and likely.
  • A 50-50 chance, pigs might fly, even chance, Buckley’s, probably and not in a month of Sundays.

Click here to find more fun math games and activities

Graphic Credits: Graphics From the Pond

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