Candy Calculations

Bag 1 of 100 pieces                                                   Bag 2 of 100 pieces

Like most kids, Halloween was one of my favorite days each year. It still is.
I’d collect a huge bag of treats, then spill and sort my spoils on the living room floor. I’d make separate piles of Hershey bars, candy corn packets, lollipops, Three Musketeers, etc. or fruit, sorting and counting to determine the size of my Halloween haul.
Unconsciously, I was developing important math skills with each bag of candy or type of fruit I threw into a pile.
Halloween is a great and painless opportunity to help children hone their early math skills – number sense, sorting, patterns, and estimation – and more advanced arithmetic competences, like multiplication and percentage. Here’s how.

Sorting: Kids will sort their stash into categories most important to them — candy or fruit, lumpy or smooth bags, what I’ll keep or will trade away. You can suggest other categories, like size, color, calories, weight, treats Mom will let you eat every day or just once a week. Remember, no category is wrong. The world needs thinkers who bring unique approaches to solving common problems.
Look at the two pictures of the loot from two different bags of 100 pieces of candy. What do you notice between bag 1 and bag 2? If your favorite is Almond Joy, which bag would you prefer the house to have for you to pick a piece? Why?

Then order the four kinds of candy by type (Most? Least? 2nd most? 3rd most?) for each bag. How easy is it to estimate the order from most to least, or least to most without actually counting?

Counting: Halloween is all about counting. How many doorbells did you ring? How many treats did you get? How many tricks did you perform? How many M&Ms in each package? The counting opportunities are endless.

Number recognition: Students can pick out all the numbers on a bag of candy – total weight, ounces/serving, calories/serving, grams of sugar or fat, percentage of Recommended Daily Value. Not only will students practice their number recognition skills, but they’ll learn about nutrition, too.

Weighing/Measuring: Grab a scale and measuring cup and let students practice weighing and measuring their loot. Does every M&M weigh the same? Do 4 grams feel heavier or lighter than 4 ounces? How do you convert one into the other?

Multiplication: At Target, a 4.4 oz. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar costs \$1.59. How much would 1 oz. cost? Search each label for the total number of ounces in each chocolate treat, then multiply to determine the total value.

Math is so much fun when you tie it to a holiday kids already love. Have a happy, safe, and mathematic Halloween!

By the Way:
Bag 1 included 100 mini candies:  9 Almond Joys; 16 Reese’s, 45 Kit Kats; and 30 Hershey’s.
Bag 2 also included 100 mini candies:  14 Almond Joys; 22 Reese’s; 54 Kit Kats; and 10 Hershey’s.