Happy Anniversary, M & M’s®

There was complete silence in my classroom. All eyes were on me. The look of disappointment on the faces of the students was heartbreaking.

“I’m sorry, children,” I said. “The principal is in charge.”

The week before a planned party, our principal made an unexpected announcement over the PA system. “There will be no Christmas parties allowed in the classrooms. Every day is to be used for academics only. No exceptions.”

As a teacher, I had promised my adorable, well-behaved students a Christmas party. The children decided who would bring the treats, paper plates, cups, napkins, and pop and I promised to bring a treat for everyone.

To distract the students from the principal’s disappointing announcement, I prepared a week of activity-driven lessons on probability. The first lesson was predicting the probability of getting heads when tossing a coin 200 times. The other lessons included tossing two die and using a spinner, but my favorite lesson was the last one.

Reading about the 75th anniversary of M & M’s® this month reminded me of that day as well as other times with that tasty, colorful, popular chocolate treat. As a child, I chose that as my favorite candy. As a teacher, I used M & M’s® to help children with their colors. And passing out M & M’s® at Halloween never gets old.

On the last day of school before the holidays, I distributed a napkin and a sheet of paper to each student. I then posed three questions to the students. “Approximately how many pieces of candy are in this bag of M & M’s®?” I said as I held up a two-ounce bag. “Put your guesses at the top of the paper next to your name.”

“What are the colors in a bag of M & M’s®? Write your answers on the paper, one color per line.”

“How many of each color do you think are in the bag? Put your guesses next to the color you selected.”

Once students completed their choices, I passed out a bag of M & M’s® to each student and said, “Please open your bags, put the candy on your napkins, and count out the M & M’s® by color to see how close you came to your guesses. Write the actual count next to each guess.”

They enthusiastically worked on their assignment. Upon completion, one of the students said, “Teacher, now what do we do with the candy?”Before I could respond, one of the boys said, “Eat’em. Teacher’s giving us a party.”

Before I could respond, one of the boys said, “Eat’em. Teacher’s giving us a party.”

I collected the empty candy bags to confirm that I didn’t want the candy back. The students’ happy smiles were well worth my effort.





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    • Sue Remisiewicz on April 17, 2016 at 7:10 pm
    • Reply

    Aw! How sweet and clever! Way to go, Barbara!

      • Barbara Pattee on April 18, 2016 at 1:15 pm
      • Reply

      Thanks, Sue. It was my pleasure.

    • Kelly Bixby on April 16, 2016 at 4:44 pm
    • Reply

    M&Ms are synonymous with parties. Great idea, Barbara!

      • Barbara Pattee on April 16, 2016 at 6:34 pm
      • Reply

      Yes, they are. Thanks, Kelly.

  1. M&Ms with peanuts are my favorite!

      • Barbara Pattee on April 16, 2016 at 6:31 pm
      • Reply

      Phil, I love those also. Have you heard about the new flavors that the company is discussing? I’m not sure if they are experimenting with the idea or actually producing them. But why mess with a good thing.

    • Kook-Wha Koh on April 7, 2016 at 3:08 pm
    • Reply

    I enjoyed to read it.

      • Barbara Pattee on April 13, 2016 at 8:23 am
      • Reply

      Thank you, Kook-Wha.

    • Karen Kittrell on April 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm
    • Reply

    You would have been my favorite teacher! I bet all of your students remember the M&M assignment.

      • Barbara Pattee on April 13, 2016 at 8:26 am
      • Reply

      Karen, I enjoyed thumbing my nose at the principal. It wasn’t my only time breaking silly rules, and my students were worth it.

    • Yibbity on April 6, 2016 at 5:52 am
    • Reply

    Cute story…I found myself forming a picture in my mind as I read it.

      • Barbara Pattee on April 13, 2016 at 8:28 am
      • Reply

      Thank you, Yibbity. Did your picture include you enjoying your own bag of M&Ms?

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