Title: Spinners and Probability
This probability lesson for 2nd/3rd graders has students make “spinners” and use them for data
collection. After you model how spinners operate and also how to collect data on the provided
handout, students will work in pairs and then alone to predict what colors their spinners are more
likely to land on.
spinner, probability, likelihood, chances, tally marks, data collection, graphing, graph, chart
By using spinners, a hands-on manipulative, students will begin to understand the idea that some
things are more likely to happen than others. Give students time to experiment and practice using
spinners before attempting this lesson. See handout one for templates of spinners that students
Here’s how a spinner works: Students should take the spinner (a circle with different pie-shaped
colors on it and a dot in the middle) and place a paperclip over the center dot. Next they should
take the tip of their pencil and place it on the center dot. The paperclip should be trapped by the
pencil. Next students flick the paperclip with their finger while holding the pencil steady. The
paperclip should begin to spin around furiously and eventually stop on one of the pie shaped
areas. It takes some practice to master the flicking motion. Once students are comfortable with
this action, you can begin the lesson by modeling.
1. Show students a large spinner with 3/4 of it colored red and the other quarter colored in
blue. (See handout two for an example.) Ask them to predict where the paperclip will
land if you spin it one time.
2. Ask why students have chosen their answers. Ask others for their opinions and reasons
3. Explain that the whole class is going to collect data from this spinner. You will spin the
paper clip ten to fifty times and record where it lands on a large table graph with tally
marks. See example in handout 3.
4. Once th