Skittles Math

Educational Application of Excel

K-4 Emotionally Impaired Classroom

  1. This document addresses the problem of representing data in graphs, and using graphs to gain information, make predictions and conclusions based on data. This is one of our School Improvement Goals. This also provides an opportunity for students to discuss features of pie and graph charts.
  2. This document will make a difference because it is engaging to students. They want to participate because they want to eat the skittles. It is also hands-on. Students get their own bag of skittles. The data is their own, not something the teacher generated and doesn’t have any meaning or interest to them. Since we are using Excel, students can see as the totals increase. They can see the graph change as the data changes. They can visually see the data (more, less) without needing to be a grade level reader. They also have the visual data to make predictions about the mystery bag. This lesson also lends itself well to differentiation. Since I have 1st through 4th graders in the room, this is important for my whole group lessons. Brophy’s Principals this document addresses: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12.
  3. Student Expectations: The student is expected to record data from their own bag and present it to the class while the teacher inputs the data on the spreadsheet.  Depending on student behavior, students can enter it as well. The students have a handout where they will record their predictions, actual data, and conclusions based on data. See procedure below. Students will individually add their own data to their student sheet.
  4. Student Assessment: Students will analyze date and record findings on their handout. Can they use the graph to determine which color there was the most of, least of?  Can they use the graph to find totals (There were how many grape and lime?). Can they use the graph to find out how many more or how many less?  Can students locate the title of the graph, and axis titles? Class will write a whole group paragraph about their findings. (Depending on the type of class you teach, this could be an independent activity.)

Skittles Math Excel Worksheets with graphs
Feel free to click and download to use in your classroom!!

Sample Excel worksheet from actual lesson:

Skittles Math

Click on Sheets to see collected data.

Skittles Math Lesson Plan


Goals of Lesson

1.       Students will collect data for individual graphs

2.     Students will record data on Excel Spreadsheet, with adult support

3.     Students will make predictions and use data to answer questions

4.     Students will use data to make predictions about mystery bag of skittles

5.     Students will review/practice math skills: adding, more than, less than, averages, written responses to mathematical thinking, estimation, reading a graph (titles, axis’s)



1.       Bag of skittles for each student or groups of students, plus 1 extra bag for mystery bag

2.     Plate or napkin for skittles, per student/group

3.     Skittles Math handout, writing tool

4.     Access to technology (Excel, projector, screen/SMARTBoard)


This lesson may be completed in 1 to 3 sessions, depending on time constraints and access to technology. (Day 1 data collection, Day 2 input into Excel, Day 3 writing about findings).  If you don’t have access to Excel, this can be done by hand on an overhead with graph paper and calculators. This lesson also works with conversation hearts and m&m’s.



1.       Have students wash their hands.

2.     Explain to your students the goals/objective of lesson.

3.     Give each student/group a bag of skittles; have them predict how many skittles are in their bag. Record on handout.

4.     Ask students to predict and record the color their will be the most of in their bag on their handout. Record the color with the least.

5.     Invite students to carefully open their bags of skittles, sort into color groups, and record data on handout.

6.     Students may eat their skittles at an appropriate time.

7.     Invite students to join you in front of whiteboard with their handouts. Open up Excel and ask each student in turn to share their data. Enter data as each student shares. Show them the total columns. Ask them what they are noticing. Depending on age level of class explains percents, share other examples of when percents and averages are used.

8.     Enter data in class sheet. Print out completed sheet for each student.

9.     Students take class graph to seat and answer remaining questions on handout (1. Which color was the greatest? 2. Which color was the least? 3. Student 1 had ______ strawberry. I had ______ strawberry. Who had more? How many more.)

10.  While students are completing their handout, call each student up individually to add data to individual student sheets. Print individual student sheets.

11.   Students return to their seat to complete handout with individual graph.

12.  When class is finished, invite them back to whiteboard. Discuss the 2 different graphs (pie and bar). Ask questions about more, least, how many more, on average which color is in bags, etc.

13.  Open up a mystery bag of skittles. Make predictions about what we should see…total # of skittles in the bag, least color, greatest color, etc. Students could also use mystery bag to create their own graph on paper or with excel.

14. Model writing a class paragraph on analyzing data.

Jodi LePla,
Jun 20, 2009, 9:40 AM