Literature Connection:

Do You Wanna Bet? by Jean Cushman illustrated by Martha Weston

Mathematical Strand:



Students will become familiar with determining probabilities.

Grade Level:


Lesson Created by:

Joe Gelroth, Eugene Field Elementary, Manhattan, KS

LESSON Description


  • Book (Do You Wanna Bet? by Jean Cushman), pencils, paper, & coins.

1. Launching the lesson (engage):

  1. This book is full of short reading passages about two boys, Danny and Brian, and their adventures in situations that involve probability. You will want to find a section of the book that contains an interesting situation, or just start from the beginning of the book.
  2. If you start from the beginning of the book, read the section, "One Out of Two: Heads or Tails".

2. Developing the lesson:

  1. After reading the situation, develop the lesson by reading and discussing the information in the "Brian’s Chances: Heads or Tails."
  2. Work with the students to demonstrate that tossing a coin six times in a row and having it land on heads all six times is a rare event. The probability is ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ equals 1/64.
  3. Ask the question, what is the probability that the next time the coin is tossed it will land on heads? Since each coin toss is independent of the previous events, the probability is ½.
  4. Have the students do the first exercise in the section "Now You Try It: Coin Toss", which demonstrates that each toss of the coin is independent.

3. Closure/Discussion/Elaboration:

  1. You can extend the lesson by doing the second exercise
  2. You can discuss other 50/50 events.
  3. You can continue to use this book to help your students learn more about probability and situations where it can be applied.

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Copyright 2001 S.Ma.R.T.Books and Kansas State University