Photo credit: Angie Six
Sunday, June 1st is Flip a Coin Day! It’s believed that Julius Caesar is the original coin flipper, using a Roman coin with his own head on one side to make important decisions. Heads or tails, indoors or outdoors, big kids or little, we have several activities that will help celebrate this quirky “holiday.” Flip a coin to see which one you’ll try first!
Coin Probability: Coin flipping is also a great introduction to probability. How many outcomes (or results) can you get when you flip a coin? Compare a coin flip to rolling a single die– how many possible outcomes does that have? Give each of your kids a coin and instruct them to flip the coin ten times. Before they start, ask them to guess how many times they’ll flip heads versus tails. Do they think it will 50% of each or do they think one outcome will prevail over the other? I love asking younger kids why they think one outcome will happen over another – they give the best answers! Keep track of the flip outcomes and compare it with their prediction. The more flips you do, the closer you will get to 50%. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do 1,000 coin flips, this virtual flipper from PBS will come in handy.
Coin Flip Random Walk: For a fun activity that will get brains and bodies moving, take the coin flip outside. Try a random walk! Mark your starting spot with sidewalk chalk. Now flip your coin. If it’s heads, take a step forward. If it’s tails, take a step back. Flip the coin 10 times and see how far you get from where you started.
Path of Chance: Ready to venture out from your straight line? Take a coin flip walk! Grab your coin and your family and head for the hills. Every time you come to a spot where you have to choose which direction to take, flip a coin to decide which way you’ll go. My kids like to argue over who gets to flip the coin, so I find it helpful to take along a clip board and piece of paper. They take turns – one flips and the other draws a map of our path of chance. It’s cool to see how many different ways you can walk in the small confines of your neighborhood (and a great way to meet the neighbors)!
Hoop Flip: Grab a hula hoop or an embroidery hoop and an assortment of coins. Have your child sit or stand a short distance away from the hoop and flip coins, trying to get them in the hoop. How many coins made it in? Sort the coins that made it in and talk about their sizes. What makes them similar? What makes them different? Do you have any messed-up pennies? For older kids, have them add up the amount of money that made it through the hoop. How many different ways can you make a dollar?
Whether you try one of these activities or do them all, the probability is high you’ll have fun and learn a little bit about math along the way!