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The Great Smartie Problem

February 7, 2011

In preparation for our upcoming PA Day, all of the teachers at the school are having their students complete a three part problem. We have been given the “Day 2” activity — the actual open-ended word problem to complete — but we have to design the “Day 1” and “Day 3” activity. The problem is a challenging one, and it will be interesting to see how it goes. I’m looking forward to the debriefing session on Friday!

Today, our students completed the “Day 1” activity. Mrs. Howe and I made a Math Story to share with our classes called The Great Smartie Problem.

After reading the math book together, we had our students work in partners to try and solve the problem presented at the end of the story. It was interesting to see their solutions, and hear what they had to share. All of the groups shared their completed work with the class.

Our Solutions To The Great Smartie Problem on PhotoPeach

Here are some of the observations noted by my students:
1) All but one of the groups used counters to solve this problem. The other group used a reckenreck.
2) Most of the groups thought that there should be 8 Smarties in each bucket, but they came to this conclusion differently. Some students dumped all of the Smarties out of the buckets, and put them back in one at a time. One of the groups, dumped all of the Smarties out of the buckets and put them back in two at a time. Still other groups moved two of the Smarties from the first bucket to the second one.
3) One group decided to buy more Smarties and put an additional four Smarties in the second bucket that had less Smarties than the first bucket.
4) One group decided to just put six Smarties in each bucket and eat the additional Smarties. The children thought that this would be a yummy choice!:)
5) Even though all of the solutions are different ones, all of them make sense, and all of them are well-explained. In all of the cases, the answer is a “fair” one.
We wonder how the students will apply what they did here to the problem that they solve on Wednesday. We would all love to hear your solution to this problem too. Please consider adding a comment here letting us know how you would solve this problem. Thank you for your help with this!
Aviva and Sharon

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  1. Hey Aviva,

    It's great to see the 3 part lesson in action! I loved the different ways that the students figured out the problem. I would have started out with 6 R + 4 W in the one bucket and move 2 W into the other bucket. So that I would have 6 W + 2 R in the other bucket. So my number sentence would be 6R + 2W = 6W + 2R. I'm curious to know if any of your students wrote two numbers on the right side of the equal sign or did everyone write down the number 16? Great post Aviva and I loved your Smartie book!


  2. I love all of your solutions to the problem. Great work. I also like how you worked together to come to an agreement on your strategy on how to share the Smarties between the two buckets.

  3. Thank you, Thomas and April, for the comments! Thomas, all of my students wrote down a number sentence in the form of ___ + ___ = ____, but I like the way that you did it too. The book really got them thinking about the concept of equality, which should help them with the second of the three lessons. We'll see what happens!

    April, I also really liked the teamwork that I saw in action. All of the group members agreed on a strategy, and followed through with the solution. I hope to see the same thing in the second day activity.

    Thanks again, to both of you, for your comments!


  4. lmorowski permalink

    Hi Mrs. Dunsinger,
    We are a first grade class from Merton, Wisconsin. We used computers to solve your math problem. We used Smart Notebook software and Kidspiration software to draw and move shapes to find the answer. Most of us started by drawing two buckets. Some of us made the buckets look just like yours and some of us put the red in one bucket and the white in the other bucket. Then we counted them and then sorted them by color if we hadn't already done that. We moved them around so we had four red in each bucket and four white in each bucket. Thank you for sharing your math problem with us. We really had fun doing a math problem from Canada!

  5. What an interesting solution! I will have to share it with the class tomorrow. My students will be thrilled that their math problem was done by students in the United States.

    Thank you!
    Miss Dunsiger

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