Odd and Even Fun with Skittles

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With this activity, children will be able to determine the difference between even and odd numbers and tell whether a number is even or odd and why.


  • 15 Skittles per child (If you don’t want to use food as a manipulative, any type of counter will work.)


  1. Put 15 Skittles in a cup for each child. They will be using these for manipulatives.
  2. Explain to your child they will be learning about even and odd numbers today. Write the terms on a board or sheet of paper and ask if they can tell you what an even number is. Depending on the answers you get, you may have to expand on what your child says. Plan to explain even numbers have a partner and can be split into equal groups, while odd numbers cannot be split into equal groups, so someone is always the odd man out.
  3. Now, we will practice some! If you have a group of students, this will work perfectly, if not you can skip this step and go to the next one. Call on a student to stand on one side of the classroom. Ask the class to tell you how many people are standing, which is 1. Then, ask if 1 is even or odd and have them explain why. Show that the person can’t have a partner because no one is there, so they are an odd number. Keep adding a student one at a time and split into two groups. This allows students to easily see the split groups and partners. Each time a new person is added, ask if the number of students standing up is even or odd and why. Also, before a student gets to join a group, have them tell you what number they will be, if it is even or odd, and why.
  4. Once everyone has joined a group, have students return to their desks for some practice with their Skittles! Have students count out one Skittle and tell you if it is even or odd; they will keep adding Skittles. Have students make two rows of Skittles as you see below to help them easily see which numbers have a partner and which do not.
  5. When students get to 10 Skittles, make a big deal by asking if it is even or odd. Expect some confusion! Explain that if a number has more than one digit, always look to the ones place and ignore the other numbers. Whatever is in the ones place determines whether or not a number is even or odd. This is a very important step because a child can not use counters for large numbers. Continue with the question of is 10 even or odd. Ask if 0 is even or odd and explain that it is neither, but if a number ends in 0, it is always even. Show that 10 Skittles can be split into 5 equal groups. Practice a few more times with the Skittles.
  6. Now, call out a few two and three digit numbers such as 78 and 129 just to reinforce the concept of looking in the ones place to determine if a number is even or odd. Have students tell you if the number is even or odd and why.
  7. Before students practice some numbers on their own, have them get out two crayons (in a class, always have students get out the same two colors). Each child should have a hundred board (you can download one here.) Ask them to color all the even numbers one color, let’s say purple and all the odd numbers another color, let’s say green. Write this on the board to they will be able to look back at it. As they are coloring, pay close attention to make sure they are coloring as was asked. As students are finishing, ask them if the notice anything about the hundred board. They should notice a pattern!
  8. Now, it is time for students to practice on their own! Give students several numbers to determine if they are even or odd. Students can use their Skittles to help them if needed. It would also be great to throw in some even and odd word problems such as: Jack filled 3 baskets with 4 berries. He gave the berries to Jill. Does Jill have an odd or even number of berries? Also, Look at the addition sentences. I’m looking for the addition sentence whose answer is an odd number. Which addition sentence is it? 5+5= ? 1+7=? 8+8=? 9+2=? Also, for a challenge question…If you add two odd numbers, will the sum be even or odd? Explain.
  9. When finished, students may eat their Skittles!

Remediation/Next Steps: There is a book called Even Stevens and Odd Todd, which would make a great introduction and literature link to this lesson. There are also some other odd and even books on Amazon. For students who struggle, re-teach the concept of having a group and splitting it into equal parts. If everyone is able to pair up, the number is even. If they are not able to, the number is odd.

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