12 Candy Math Ideas

In the hopes of not eating all the candy my three boys come home with on Halloween, I like to have all sorts of activities planned.  I've already shared a bunch of candy science ideas here and here so today I thought I'd compile a list of candy math ideas.

Starting with the most obvious:

1. Graphing-- whether we sort by type of candy and then graph or break open a bag of skittles, M&M's or smarties and sort by color we always include some graphing in our Halloween math lessons.  The kids have learned to make their own bar graphs and are motivated by the fact that they can eat a few pieces (or a whole package) when they're done.

2.  Estimate and Count-- I often have my boys make an estimate of how many candies they got then we count them up and see how close their estimate was.  Sometimes we'll pick just one kind of candy to estimate other times we'll guess at the whole bag.  Sometimes we estimate how many pieces will be inside a little bag of candy.  It's always fun to see whose guess was more accurate.

3.  Adding/ Subtracting--  We often use candy pieces as counters when Halloween comes around.  One year I combined two different kinds of candy and asked Alec to write up all the combinations that added to 10-- you can read about it here.  Another year we sorted Skittle colors and added how many oranges and yellows we ended up with comparing it to the number of greens and purples.

4.  Making a Venn Diagram-  When sorting candies often they have similar and dissimilar properties.  Making a Venn diagram helps kids compare and contrast and brings sorting to a whole other level.

5. Adding in Literature-- We've read Skittles Riddles and Hershey Bar Fractions math book while following along with Skittles and Hershey bars.  This year we've already requested Twizzlers Percentages Book, More M&M math, and I was surprised to see just how many candy math books were out there!  There's Reese's Pieces Count by 5's, Hershey's Multiplication, and many, many more!

6.  Bake something using candy-- reading and following recipes gives kids a great chance to learn and apply fractions.  We often find a recipe that uses some of our candy and bake a new treat to try.  Anything with chocolate in it tends to work really well as a cookie add- in.

7.  Fractions--  We often talk about fractions when we're playing with candy.  Anything that can be sorted into colors often gets talked about as part of a whole.  We'll write fractions for how many red, yellow, green, etc. ones we have versus all the ones in the package.  The fun size bags at Halloween are perfect for that.  We've also added and subtracted fractions with like denominators, reduced fractions, and have taken out our fraction tiles to help us when comparing fractions.

8.  Probability-- Combine a few different candies into a cup or bowl.  Make sure there are some types of candy that are only in the bowl once or twice while others are represented multiple times and ask which ones they are more likely and least likely to pick.  Then try picking a few times with eyes closed. It's a fun way to learn about probability.

9.  Make candy patterns - We've had lots of fun in the past making up our own patterns.  One year we even strung them onto cording and made bracelets; granted that was at Easter time but it would work with Halloween candy too, as long as you don't use any chocolate.

10.  Look for shapes-- cubes, cones, cylinders, spheres, etc., talk about properties of shapes, sort, count and compare them.  Hershey kisses are great cones, Double Bubble candies are often cylinder shaped, tootsie rolls are cylinders, candy corns as triangles, whoppers as spheres.... it's a whole new way of looking at candy.

11.  Play with measurement-- use candy as a non standard measurement and see how many candy bars long the table is or how many candy bars high the chair is.  Use a ruler and measure the length of gummy worms or candy bars.  Take a bite and see how big a bite you took; remeasure and subtract the difference.

12.  Make arrays for multiplication practice or division. Lining up small candies into arrays is a great visual for students starting out with multiplication and division.  How many in each row? How many rows?  How many total?

Do you have any favorite candy math activities that I forgot to mention?


  1. Great ideas! I've been looking for more hands-on, fun ways to do math and numbers with my little one. :) #fabfridaypost

  2. Love this idea! I don't know if my kids can keep those sweets in front of them out for so long. I think there will be one or two missing from the pile. lol! Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

    1. They definitely ate a couple as they worked! I always keep a few extra pieces on hand to make up for those they "sneak".


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