Probability Lesson for Kids: Examples & Definition

Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Carla Palomino
Expert Contributor
Laura Pennington

Laura received her Master's degree in Pure Mathematics from Michigan State University, and her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Grand Valley State University. She has 20 years of experience teaching collegiate mathematics at various institutions.

Have you ever been at a birthday party picking out candies from a mystery box? In this lesson, you will learn what probability is, important vocabulary and written probabilities in number form. That chocolate candy will be yours next time! Updated: 10/09/2020

Probability & Key Terms

Probability is the chance that something will happen, or how likely it is that an event will occur. When we toss a coin in the air, we use the word probability to refer to how likely it is that the coin will land with the heads side up.

When we talk about probability, we use a few words that help us understand the chance for something to happen. Probability can be expressed in the following ways:

  • Certain: an event will happen without a doubt
  • Likely: the probability of one event is higher than the probability of another event
  • Equal probability: the chance of each event happening is the same
  • Unlikely: one event is less likely to happen versus another event
  • Impossible: there's no chance of an event happening

Let's use an example: you want to go to your best friend's birthday party next Saturday. Your parents decide to make a deal with you. Mom says, ''It is certain you will go to the party if you pass your test on Friday.'' In other words, if you pass that test, you will go. No doubt about it.

Dad says, ''If you pass your test on Friday, it is likely you will go to the birthday party.'' In other words, your chances of going are greater than staying at home if you pass.

Dad also says, ''We already have plans for Saturday, there is an equal probability for you to go to the party or to stay with us, we will see on Friday.'' Meaning both events can happen, both are equally probable.

Mom says, ''If you don't pass that test on Friday, it is unlikely you will go to the birthday party.'' Meaning, your chances of staying at home are higher than going to the party if you don't pass the test.

Dad says, '' You may not go to the party if you don't pass the test.'' Meaning, if you fail, there is no chance that you will go to the party.

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Writing Probability in Number Form

There are six cupcakes in a lunch bag, two of them are vanilla and the other four, chocolate.

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Practice:
Probability Lesson for Kids: Examples & Definition Quiz

Instructions: Choose an answer and click 'Next'. You will receive your score and answers at the end.

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If you have 2 blue marbles and 1 red marble in a box and you select a marble without looking. What is the probability for you to select a red one?

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Additional Activities

Probability Activity:


Review:

  • The probability of an event is the likelihood that the event will happen.
  • If an event is sure to happen, then it has a certain probability,
  • If an event is more likely to happen than not happen, then it has a likely probability.
  • If the likelihood of two events happening is the same, then they have equal probability.
  • If an event is less likely to happen than not happen, then it has an unlikely probability.
  • If an event is sure not to happen, then it has an impossible probability.

Materials Needed:

  • A large bag of plain original M&M's (with red, yellow, green, orange, and brown colors)
  • A pencil and paper

Steps:

  1. Form 3-5 separate piles of M&M's from all of the M&M's in the bag, each with an equal number of total M&M's.
  2. Count how many of each color are in each of the piles, and record the results on a piece of paper.
  3. Answer the study questions while snacking on the M&M's.

Study Questions:

  1. If we choose 1 M&M from each of the piles, which pile would have the highest probability of choosing a red M&M? A yellow M&M? A green M&M?
  2. If any of the piles have the same number of one of the colors of the M&M's, what do we know about the probability of choosing that color M&M from each of those piles?
  3. What is the probability of choosing a purple M&M from any of the piles?
  4. What is the probability of there being a brown M&M in the whole bag of M&M's?

Study Question Answers:

  1. Since all the piles have the same number of M&M's, the pile that would have the highest probability of choosing a red M&M is the pile with the most red M&M's, the pile that would have the highest probability of choosing a yellow M&M is the pile with the most yellow M&M's, and the pile that would have the highest probability of choosing a green M&M is the pile with the most green M&M's.
  2. The events of choosing that color M&M from each of the piles have equal probability.
  3. It is an impossible probability of choosing a purple M&M from any of the piles because there are no purple M&M's.
  4. The probability is certain that there will be a brown M&M in the whole batch because there is at least one brown M&M in every bag.

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