6 ways to teach with Smarties across the primary curriculum
These colourful treats can take on a multitude of roles across a number of subjects, says Samantha DaCosta…
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably made use of Smarties in your maths lessons over the years. There seems to be lots of sweetie-related maths resources available, many of which I’ve used at some point or other.
However, over the last few years I’ve started using Smarties in a much broader range of lessons. Here are some of my favourite ideas for your own Smarties-themed project:
Maths: Mean averages
Did you know that each pack of Smarties contains different quantities of each colour, and even different numbers of sweets?
I usually begin this particular task by discussing which colour is the children’s favourite. Do they feel they get less of their favourite colour in each pack? This often leads to a discussion about whether the different colours taste the same (more on this later).
These discussions provide the perfect starting point for looking at mean averages. Use a large piece of paper to chart the colours in each pack, then use your data as follows…
Once we have our data about colours, how do we show our findings to others? What would they want to know?
Start with a simple physical pictogram then demonstrate how this translates to a bar graph. Could we make a line graph? Would it show anything? (Hint: no, as it’s not continuous data, which is what line graphs are for).
Further up the school, try making pie charts of the data.
Science: Taste experiments
Returning to the question of whether different colour Smarties taste the same can lead to research about the production of the sweet and also an investigation that involves blind taste testing.
Can you pick out the colour without seeing it? (Hint: The orange ones are different to the rest). Over the years, the recipe used to make Smarties has changed to include natural ingredients. Working out which ingredient makes which colour can be fun.
Those colourful orbs look wonderful against a backdrop of black sugar paper. There is no need for all children to do this project at once – photograph the work of small groups then reuse the Smarties.
Research artists who do not produce permanent works of art.
Children enjoy sorting the Smarties by colour before beginning their masterpiece. Search for ‘Smartie mosaic’ online for inspiration or explore this website which will generate a Smarties-by-number style template for children to follow.
Q What’s the cleverest sweet in the shop? A Smarties!
Learning about how to play with words is a great and valuable experience for children. Look at how the use of double meanings forms the basis of many jokes, then find other items in the sweet shop to make jokes about.
Here are a few to get you started: Wispa, Lion, Crunchie. Get pupils to test out their jokes on other teachers or classes and find out which ones go down the best.
An important element of DT is understanding who a product is for, how it will be used and how it’s produced.
The packaging for Smarties has changed from the fondly remembered cylinder with alphabet plastic top to a hexagonal prism made of one continuous net, incorporating the lid.
The design is very effective – when the pack falls over, the contents no longer spill.
Look at different Smartie packs then design your own. Think about how they will be displayed in shops and how they can be stacked. Will it have a resealable lid? Does it use one net?
Don’t forget to set aside a few packs of Smarties that children can eat after all their hard work!
Samantha DaCosta is deputy head at Crown House Preparatory School. She will be discussing ways to use Smarties in school at Southern Rocks 2019, a teachmeet held on 2 February 2019 at Hindhead Campus in Surrey.