I missed candy hearts season this year (trying to keep my overspending self out of trouble), but I had to run in to the grocery store one day last week. They have jelly beans! In lots of different flavors! And colors!
You know I couldn’t help myself.
Hello, Jelly Bean Math Lessons, all week long.
On a slightly related note, Grace still hates school time. She thinks school time is a drag because she associates it with worksheet after worksheet. I’m working to change that one jelly bean at a time.
So. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
Jelly Bean Sorting
Grace is past sorting by colors, but she automatically sorted her jelly beans when I gave her a handful.
I was going to say, “Everybody sorts their jelly beans by color, right?” but I’m pretty sure that’s something odd that is particular to our DNA.
Anyway, after she sorted the jelly beans, we made a graph out of the numbers. Here’s the little graph paper I whipped up for her.
If you wanted to get fancy, you could use a scale or balance to measure your jelly beans and sort them that way. Our bag contained beans that were all different sizes. I thought that was weird, but it made for a good point of comparison.
Jelly Bean Counting
Something funny happens when Grace is counting numbers bigger than 10. She gets the answer wrong. I think it’s because she can look at smaller numbers and see how many there are without counting, but with bigger numbers, she has to actually count.
We are working on counting numbers from 10 to 20, so I gave Grace a couple of big handfuls of jelly beans and asked her to count them.
We also worked on place value, by sorting big groups into 10s and 1s.
Lastly, we worked on greater than and less than. I would give Grace two groups, and she would draw in either < or > (complete with teeth to eat the larger group).
Jelly Bean Addition
We used a die to add jelly beans. I roll the die, then take that number of jelly beans. Then Grace does. Then I roll again, adding my new jelly beans to my old ones and saying that number out loud. We keep adding on until Grace gets frustrated or bored.
Then we eat all of our jelly beans and start over at zero.
You could also do addition like equations. You would roll the die and get a 2, so that’s the first number. Then I roll and get a 3, that’s the second number. Then you have to add the two numbers together. Then we eat the jelly beans and I roll first.
Jelly Bean Subtraction
Subtracting jelly beans is easy.
“If you have 14 jelly beans, and Allie walks by and steals 3 of them, how many do you have left?”
Grace didn’t like that game so much, but subtracting jelly beans is generally really fun.
Jelly Bean Patterns
We are using Singapore Math right now (because it came with our Calvert Curriculum), and it’s talking about patterns right now.
When I think of patterns, I think of AB or ABC. Grace loves this kind of patterns, so I let her go a little crazy with it.
I make a pattern (get complex! Think AABBB or something similar.), and Grace finishes it. Then it’s her turn to make a pattern, and I finish it.
Singapore Math patterns are the precursor to counting by 2s and 3s and 4s. So if the pattern is to add 2, you start with 1, then 3, 5,7. Get it? Grace hates this adding pattern business, so we didn’t do a lot of it.
Jelly Bean Measuring
We lined 20 jelly beans up in a straight line and measured it in inches and in centimeters. Then we lined up 50.
Then we use our ruler to see how many jelly beans made up a foot.
Then we measured the (almost) exact size of one average-sized jelly bean in fractions of an inch and in centimeters.
We also got out our balance and found out how much mass is in 10 jelly beans, then 20, then the whole bag, then how many jelly beans were the same as a pencil, an empty cup, and a pair of scissors.
Jelly Bean Probability
Put 2 colors of jelly beans in a brown paper bag. Pick one out and write down what color it is. Put the jelly bean back (this is really important!) and pick again. Repeat until you’ve picked 10 times. We used a little printable I made:
It’s easy to go from a 1/10 probability to a %, if your child is ready for that. Grace isn’t.
Jelly Bean Estimating
After three days’ worth of jelly bean math activities, our bag of jelly beans was dwindling. I asked Grace to estimate how many jelly beans were left in the bag, then we got them out and counted.
There were 73.
Grace estimated how many jelly beans should could pick up in one big handful, then she did it and counted.
You could also spread all the jelly beans out in a puddle on the table and estimate how many there are that way. We couldn’t do that because Allie would steal them.
When we open another bag of jelly beans, I’m going to ask Grace to do another kind of estimating: How many jelly beans will fit in this cup? We’ll have to use a smallish cup, but I think she’ll be very surprised at the number.
Jelly Bean Shapes
This was a real challenge, so if your kiddo is really small or very easily frustrated, you might want to skip it.
Try to make shapes with your jelly beans.
Jelly beans are round, right? They roll all around, resisting being set in one spot.
We were able to make a circle, an oval, and a triangle. We tried to make a heart, but it was a flop.
Jelly Bean Experiments
Science is Grace’s favorite subject, so I worked that in. She predicted that a jelly bean would sink in water, so after she’d made a prediction, we tested it with a glass of water.
I asked Grace to predict what would happen if we left the jelly bean in the glass of water for the afternoon, then overnight.
Jelly Bean Taste Tests
Grace closed her eyes, and I handed her a jelly bean. She had to guess what color it was without seeing it. This was really fun. If you get tropical or other unusual flavors, this can be tough.
Jelly Bean Shakers
I don’t know what to call this. I secretly put a few jelly beans into a plastic Easter egg, closed it up, and gave it to Grace. She shook it and had to guess how many jelly beans were inside. We did this over and over; it was really fun!
Jelly Bean Motor Skills
Grace is still pretty young, so I try to work in activities that help her fine motor skills.
I challenged her to use a spoon to sort a cup full of jelly beans into piles by color. It was hard.
I’m going to try to get her to do this again with tweezers or with bug catchers, too.
There are a few other activities in my Candy Hearts Activities list that would work for jelly beans, too.
How else can you use jelly beans to teach and learn?
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