Halloween Candy Bar Graph


What to do with all of that candy that is about to infiltrate your gluten-free, sugar-free, locavore pantry? Why make a bar graph of course! I have posted about this before, but bar graphs are a great way to make a meaningful connection between math (data management and interpretation) and every day life.

Start by dumping all of the candy into a pile. This is fun for the obvious reason: seeing a mountain of candy! But ask your kids if just by glancing they can see any natural groups. Once they’ve determined the grouping, start the sorting. Sorting is a great activity for the littlest ones and possibly the older, more experienced ones can oversee and make corrections when necessary.






Ask lots of questions during this part of the activity. Do you think we have enough to make a group? Why or why not? What are some other ways we can sort the candy? Could we sort by chocolate, candy and chips?

Once the candy has been sorted, write the title of each group (for example: gum, suckers, Rockets, etc.) on a sticky note.


Then the children count each pile. This is where you can encourage skip-counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s. After the tally, record the number on the corresponding sticky note.


Now it’s time to create the graph. Ask your child to recall the components of a graph: title, X and Y axis labels, data labels, and scale. Listen to their reasoning for choosing the scale. When working on this graph my boys engaged in a discussion about the best way to capture the data because the smallest group was the Play-Doh with 2 and the largest group was the Chocolate Bars with 125. That’s quite a range!

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Get out the ruler, the pencil and the colour pencils to finish the graph.



Now here’s a problem: What do we do once we start eating the candy?


The Aftermath of the Halloween Haul

The Aftermath of the Halloween Haul. 

What a joy to behold the boys, simply saturated in sugar cravings fulfilled, joyfully munching on usually forbidden treats, slowly shucking their costumed alter egos as they plow through the pile of candy.

The photo does not capture the volume of candy that came through our doors, since Rowan is only one of three trick or treaters in this house, and it does not capture the joy.  He was positively giddy. 

True story: When Griffin was five, he came home with a massive load of candy, and my colleague at work and I discussed how to handle the volume of junk.  She said she had a rule that worked well: one piece of candy a day.  Her son’s Halloween loot had lasted until Easter the previous year.  I jumped on the idea.  It was perfect: it let him enjoy his haul, he policed its consumption himself, I did not have to play the authority figure, he would see the value of “budgeting,” and it was only one little bite of candy a day.

Except it wasn’t perfect.  The next trip to the dentist revealed SIX cavities.  That’s right.  Six.  The daily exposure to sugar, even to one bite-sized serving, took a massive toll, and I was horrified.

So now we let them binge for two days, and then it goes into the garbage. 

To be honest, I don’t really like that approach, either.  I hate throwing it away, not only because that makes me a killjoy, but also because it feels wrong to throw away food, even if it is junk.  Then there’s also the whole bingeing aspect. 

So I’m still looking for the perfect plan: something that will balance health and fun, something that does not make me the wicked witch or the clean teeth police.

What rules do you have with the Halloween Haul?  Do you do trades for stickers and such?  Slow and steady consumption?  Binges?