Sweet Statistics: Jelly Bean Data Analysis

Sometimes kids think Earth has unlimited resources and they don’t realize that only a small part of our planet is habitable. Edible Earth Rounds is a tasty activity you can use to demonstrate this concept, and it’s a great way to sneak in a fraction lesson, too! Each student will use half an English muffin or sandwich round to create a model of the earth. They’ll use jelly to represent the part of our Earth covered with water, peanut butter or almond butter for the land, and other food items to represent the uninhabitable and habitable parts of the land. Check out the photos below for a quick overview of what’s involved.

When you introduce the activity, you might want to spend a few minutes discussing the terms “habitable,” “inhabitable,” and “uninhabitable.” Did you know that “habitable” and “inhabitable” are actually synonyms? Usually the prefix “in” means “not,” but apparently “inhabitable” is the exception to that rule. Therefore, the only form that means “not able to be inhabited” is “uninhabitable.” Are you confused yet? 🙂

Edible Earth Rounds is one of the many lessons in my April Activities pack. This activity is perfect for Earth Day (April 22nd) or any time of the year as an environmental science lesson. Most kids are surprised that only 1/8 of the earth can support life, so it’s an eye-opening experience that helps them understand the importance of conserving our natural resources.

This activity comes with full teacher directions, a materials-request letter to send home to parents, and a student printable to guide the lesson. There’s also a copy of the student example shown below that you can use as an answer key. If you’d like a closer look at what’s inside, click HERE to download a PDF preview that shows every page in the April pack. In addition to this activity, you’ll find a lesson for National Book Week, National Jelly Bean Day, Poetry Month, and more!

I used to think jelly bean math activities had no place in the upper elementary classroom. Sure, sorting jelly beans and graphing them by color is fun, but who has time for “fun” holiday activities when you have a rigorous curriculum to teach? But that was before I realized that you can do a whole lot more with jelly beans than just graph them! In fact, you can turn a fun candy-themed lesson into a powerful learning activity just by sneaking in some challenging academic content!

For example, the Jelly Bean Egg Challenge is a sweet statistics lesson that requires students to measure, estimate, collect, compile, and graph jelly bean data in order to analyze it and draw conclusions. Give each student a plastic egg filled with an assortment of jelly beans, and let the fun (and learning) begin!

The basic activity directions, printables, and a class data chart are included in my April Activities for Upper Elementary pack. Here are 5 more ways to dig even deeper into that lesson.

  • Explore Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
    After having your students sort and count jelly beans by color, ask them to represent the number of each color as a fractional part of the total. If appropriate, have them convert those fractions to decimals and percents.
  • Introduce Graphing Concepts
    Use the jelly bean color data to introduce basic graphing concepts and have students create their own graphs on blank graph paper or a blank grid. Discuss questions like these: Which type of graph would be best for this type of data, a line graph or a bar graph? Why? What increment size should be used? What labels should go on the horizontal and vertical axes?
  • Create Spreadsheet Graphs
    Demonstrate how to enter individual jelly bean color data into a spreadsheet and choose the appropriate type of graph from the given options.
  • Measure and Compile Data
    Have kids measure the circumference of the plastic eggs and weigh them before removing the jelly beans. Create a class data chart showing the egg weights and numbers of jelly beans inside each one. Estimate and predict the number of jelly beans inside a sealed egg based on its weight. Predict the number of jelly beans in a sealed egg based on it’s weight.
  • Analyze Class Data
    After the class data is compiled, have students determine the range, mode, median, and mean weight and numbers of jelly beans inside each egg.

Jelly Bean Egg Challenge is a great lesson for the week before Easter, but it would also be a terrific lesson for National Jelly Bean Day which falls on April 22nd.

What’s the sweetest part of the lesson? Eating the jelly beans at the end, of course!  Enjoy!

By the way, these photos were taken by my daughter Amy who is a freelance photographer. I think she did a terrific job capturing before and after images of the Edible Earth Rounds activity. If you’d like to see more of her work, check out Amy Candler Photography at www.amycandler.com!