No way Jose


In this unit we develop the language of probability by considering events which are likely or unlikely. We do this using the context of children's stories.

Achievement Objectives
S1-3: Investigate situations that involve elements of chance, acknowledging and anticipating possible outcomes.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Use everyday language to talk about chance.
  • Classify events as certain, possible, or impossible.
Description of Mathematics

This task is about developing the language of probability. The words that are introduced and explored in this unit are always, perhaps, no way Jose; certain, possible, impossible; will, might, won’t; will, maybe, never; yes, maybe, no. These are informal, everyday words that denote chance or probability. By using these words, that have some familiarity for the students, they should start to get a better idea of the overall concept. An understanding of the notion and application of probability is essential in a range of businesses such as the insurance industry, as well as in medical areas such as epidemiology. On the personal level such knowledge enables us to understand the risks we take at the casino, the TAB, the stock market or with a medical operation. So the notion has considerable importance in both the business and private world. As students progress through the primary years they will gradually learn to assign fractions or decimals to given probabilities using both a theoretical and experimental approach. The events that they will find probabilities for will vary from examples involving dice, spinners, cards and the like, to games of chance including horse racing and casino-type games.

Required Resource Materials

Getting Started

Today we follow Red Riding Hood on her journey to Grandma’s house and look at the characters she is likely to meet.

  1. Read or tell the story of Red Riding Hood.
    Discuss with the students the setting of Red Riding Hood’s journey. Encourage the students to share their ideas about the objects that could be found in the forest.
  2. Show a picture of a tree to the class. Ask: Do you think Red Riding Hood will see a tree in the forest?
    Peg the picture of the tree beneath the word card will.
  3. Show a picture of an octopus to the class. Ask: Do you think that Red Riding Hood will see an octopus in the forest?
    Display the picture beneath the word card won’t.
  4. Show a picture of a hedgehog to the class. Ask: Do you think that Red Riding Hood will see a hedgehog in the forest?
    Display the picture beneath the word card might.
  5. Show the students the rest of the pictures in the Red Riding Hood story pack. Let the students take turns placing the picture under a word card. Remember to ask the students to justify their decision.


Over the next 2 to 3 days the students can look at the journeys of other fairytale characters and make decisions about who or what they might meet.

  1. In pairs let the students select one of the prepared story packets. (A story packet contains 3 word cards and pictures of objects for the students to classify. It also includes 3 blank cards for the students to draw their own pictures.)
    Remind the students to peg the pictures beneath the word cards.
  2. As the students classify the cards, ask questions that encourage the students to explain their thinking.
    Tell me why you have put that there?
    Why do you think that …….. is impossible?
    Could you have put it with one of the other words? Why/Why not?
  3. Remind the students that between them they are to draw 3 pictures – one object for each word card in their story packet.
  4. At the end of each day give the pairs an opportunity to display and discuss their word strings.
  5. As the students share their strings encourage the students to use the language of probability.


  1. We begin today’s session by getting the students to brainstorm a list of their favourite stories.
  2. In pairs, get the students to select a story for which they can make a story pack. Discuss what the contents of a story pack are (pictures and 3 word cards).
  3. Allow the pairs time to talk about the people or things that the main character will, might or won’t see.
  4. Share ideas to ensure that the students understand what they are doing.
  5. Let the students decide on the 3 probability words that they are going to include in their story pack. These words can either be provided on cards or written on the board for the students to copy.
  6. As the students make their story packs, ask questions that focus on their use of probability words and their decisions about the likelihood of events.
  7. Swap packs.

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