Sometimes when calculating an average you find that the total number of items you have does not divide evenly into the number of piles that you need. The goal of this activity is to teach the child what to do if you run into this situation.


  • Addition
  • Division
  • Fractions/Decimals
  • How to calculate the average (see Intro to Statistic Part 1)

Description of Activity:

In this follow on video to Intro to Statistics Part 1 Professor Alfie shows us what to do if we run into the situation described above. By splitting each individual stick into the number of people we have we can demonstrate to the child that if our average is not a whole number we need to use fractions (or decimals).

Video: Intro to Statistics Part 2

Building on this Activity

Once the child has a basic understanding of what the terms average, median and mode mean you can begin to collect data out in the real world to practice these calculations. The key as always is to make the data collection intrinsically motivating to the child. With Rowan we did it around counting cars on his favorite roads. Think about what your child is interested in and how you can use that interest to collect data with your child. Repeat multiple times so the child has plenty of opportunities to practice their calculations. And let them use a calculator if they need too.

Adapting this activity to your child’s interests

When we taught Rowan to calculate averages we did it by counting cars on his favorite roads. This worked well if the average came out to be a whole number but as you can’t really get 22.4 cars passing you in a five minute period it became a bit confusing for Rowan if the average did not turn out to be a whole number. At first we staged it so the average always ended up being a whole number to ensure that he was comfortable with the idea of calculating averages. Once we sure this was the case we started to introduce the idea of the average not being a whole number. We allowed this to happen and Rowan to become confused and then told him we were confused too and would figure it out together and that we had an idea. Then we created cardboard print outs of the number of cars we had seen that day so that we could cut the left over ones up (in the same way Alfie did with the sticks). We advise you to do the same with whatever you are using to calculate averages with the child you are working with. It is much easier for them to understand if they have a visual representation of the fraction. If you are having any trouble figuring this out please post your question on this module or ask in the forum for more help for further information.