With the end of school, parties and Christmas fast approaching, lollies will be in abundance. Before you think of stashing some away when your kids aren’t looking, consider this; Skittles and M&Ms are a fantastic learning resources! Not only are they extremely motivating (who doesn’t want to eat a handful of lollies!?) they can help your child learn maths, English and science concepts.

A single mini bag of M&Ms or Skittles (the ones you buy as a multi pack) can provide loads of activity options for the little ones. You won’t need much else either, maybe just a piece of paper and some coloured pencils or textas!

Listed below is an activity to suit any of your kids aged 2-12 year olds so add a multi pack of Skittles or M&Ms to your shopping list now, then read on!

Predicting – Before opening the packet ask your child to predict how many lollies will be inside and what colours they will be.

*You might ask: Why did you choose that amount/those colours? After opening it; were you right? Were you close? Why or why not? *

Colour Sorting – Sort the lollies according to colour.

*You might ask: What colours do you have in the packet? What are some colours you don’t have? Which colour do you have the most of? Which do you have the least of?*

Patterns – Lay out a pattern and ask your child to fill in the next few colours or fill in the missing lolly in a pattern. Alternatively, they might like to create their own pattern.

*You might ask: How did you know that was the answer? Can you think of any different colours that would also be correct?*

Counting – Ask your child to count the total number of lollies in the pack.

*You might ask: If you had one more lolly, how many would you have? What if you had 2 more? 10 more? 3 less? etc*

Graphing – Line the lollies up to create a graph. Have your child draw an outline around the lollies using the right coloured pencil/texta. Depending on your child’s skill level you might like them to rule up a proper bar graph, line graph, create a pie graph, label the graph correctly or even create a graph in Excel

*You might ask: Which colour are there the most of? Which colour has the least? Which colour are there only 2 of? How many more yellow are there than green?*

Creating sums – Ask your child to create some sums (addition and subtraction is great to start with.) Depending on the number of lollies in their packet, your child may also be able to create some division or multiplication equations.

*You might ask: If you added all the blue and yellow lollies together how many would there be? If you took all the green ones out of the packet, how many would be left? If you ate 3 of the red ones, how many would be left for me to eat?*

Probability – The probability of an event occurring can be described in words (impossible, likely, certain) or with values (1/2, 20%, 3/15). Ask your child to describe the likelihood of particular colours being pulled out off the packet.

*You might ask: If all the lollies were to be put back in the packet and I pulled one out randomly, what colour is it most likely to be? What is the chance of me pulling out a yellow lolly? Which colour is it impossible for me to select? Which colour has a 1 in 4 chance of being selected? There is a 20% chance orange will be selected, true or false?*

Fractions – Calculate the fraction of each colour as part of the whole packet.

*You might ask: What fraction of the packet is yellow? Can you simplify any of the fractions? What are some equivalent fractions for the red lollies?*

Percentage – Ask your child to calculate the percentage of each colour as part of the whole packet of lollies.

*You might ask: What percentage of the packet is green? If you ate all the red, green and yellow lollies what percentage of the lollies will be left?*

Adjectives – Have your child randomly select a lolly with their eyes closed. Ask them to describe the smell, the taste and texture in as much detail as possible before guessing which colour it is. Encourage them to use all 5 senses and create a list of adjectives for each colour/flavour.

*You might ask: Can you describe the lolly so that someone else would be able to picture it without seeing it? Can you explain the difference in colours without using the exact colour words?*

Tell a story – Ask your child to make up a story from a lolly’s point of view, encourage them to consider what the lolly would be experiencing.

*You might ask: What is the structure of a good story (narrative)? What is the problem in your story? How will it be resolved? Who are the characters? What is the lolly thinking/feeling/seeing/hearing?*

Experiment – Process: Place the lollies around the rim of a white bowl or plate. Slowly add water to the centre of the bowl until it reaches the lollies. Observe what happens.

Before adding water, encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen. After adding water have them look closely and make verbal observations about what they notice. For more detail on the experiment click here.

*You might ask: What do you think will happen? Why? *During the experiment-* What can you see? Why do you think this is happening? *After the experiment*– Did it happen as you expected? Can you think of other situations where the same thing happens? Would you like to try the experiment with next?*

Many of these activities can be done with any selection of coloured items such as coloured popcorn, jelly beans, gummy bears, Smarties or Fruit Loops. The items certainly don’t need to be edible for your child to work through the maths activities. Beads, sequins, pop poms or coloured craft sticks are great alternatives.

Learning is lots of fun when it is relaxed and especially when it is based around food! This Silly Season, consider buying some colourful lollies for your child to use as a learning tool.