Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

The BrainPOP ELL movie Probability (L3U4L3) asks what the probability is of getting an orange gumball from the gumball machine. Ben and Moby calculate and discover that it’s not very likely.  What will they do? Can they change their chances? In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students will learn about and discuss probability in listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities. Activities include: illustrate and define content vocabulary, arrange academic words according to degree of possibility, discuss relationships among words, predict outcomes of movie scenes, and explain probability problems.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Arrange designated academic vocabulary words according to degree of probability. (Content Objective)
  2. Predict probable outcomes of scenes in the movie using infinitives. (Language and Content Objective)
  3. Explain the probability problems that are illustrated in the movie. (Content Objective)



Content Vocabulary: probability, fraction, percent, add, subtract, total, calculate
Academic Vocabulary: chance, possible, impossible, likely, unlikely, probable, certain, increase, decrease, improve


For Activity #2, An Array, prepare flashcards of the vocabulary words: impossible, possible, likely, unlikely, probable, certain. If you are doing the activity with small groups, then prepare a set of cards for each group.

For Activity #5, Word Analogies, make enough copies of the Analogies below for students to work in pairs, or prepare to project them for the class.


Add is to subtract as __________ is to decrease.
Dog is to animal as ______ is to money.
________________ is to whole as same is to different.
Many is to more as ___________ is to less.
Probably is to __________________ as percent is to percentage.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What is Probability? To introduce students to the concept of probability, begin with a real life situation. For example, flip a coin and ask what the chances are that it will come out heads. Or, place the coin in one hand, and put both hands behind your back. Ask one student to guess which hand it is in. Ask what the chances are that he’ll choose the right hand, and write chance on the board. Now bring up two student volunteers and put the coin in one of their hands. Then have a third student guess where it is. What are her chances of finding it? Finally, ask a new student to close his eyes or step outside while you place the coin in one student’s hand. Ask the new student to guess where it is, among all the students in the class. Will he find the coin? Probably not. What’s the probability that he’ll find it? Ask students to Think-Pair-Share to define the word probability.
  2. An Array. Before showing the movie Probability (L3U4L3), display or distribute the cards with the words impossible, possible, likely, unlikely, probable, certain (see Preparation), and ask students to arrange them in order of degree of probability. Ask for examples and encourage discussion. After showing the movie, have the students do it again, and discuss whether and how their understanding of the words has changed.
  3. Fractions of Probability. Have students create flash cards to illustrate and define the content vocabulary words in the movie Probability (L3U4L3): fraction, percent, increase, decrease, add, subtract, total. Partners can play a matching or memory game. Alternatively, or as second step, have groups create posters illustrating the words. Each group can collaborate on one poster illustrating all of the words.
  4. Do the Math. On a repeated viewing of the movie Probability (L3U4L3), pause the movie each time the probability changes, and ask students to explain the math before Ben does.
  5. Word Analogies. Do a Word Analogy activity with the featured vocabulary (see Preparation). Partners complete the sentences, discussing the relationships among the words. After you have gone over the five sentences and the different relationships with the class, have partners collaborate on three additional sentences, using any words they wish. They may click on the Word Lists button in any BrainPOP ELL lesson for a list of all the words they have learned.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY Play the game in the BrainPOP Jr lesson Basic Probability.


BrainPOP ELL Movie
Thanks for Nothing!

BrainPOP  Movie
Basic Probability

BrainPOP JR  Movie
Basic Probability

BrainPOP JR Game
Basic Probability Game

Battleship Numberline
Drake Equation
Dig It
Flower Power