The closest Target is about 2 hours away. For some background - I also grew up in a similar area - no Target. When I lived in DC, I was first introduced to Target's wonderfulness (to be clear - DC Target is a little less wonderful than average Target wonderfulness).
Reminiscing aside, I traveled to said nearest Target yesterday. And - let's be clear - the most awesome part of the whole store is obviously the $1 section as you come in the door. I found about 5,280 pieces of wonderful $1 items that I thought - at the time - were absolutely essential to purchase. After some deep breathing and reasoning with myself a little, I finally purchased these...
"What is that?" you ask. I'm so glad you did. It's a dozen bags of small, plastic multicolored woodland animals.
I opened one bag. Here is the assortment of colors/creatures I received:
There are 6 creatures (all very cute) in three different colors.
There are little foxes and deer.
Also joining the party - squirrels and rabbits.
I hear you. This is a math blog. Tell me about the math. Okay - if you insist, but isn't the fox cuteeee?
Here are my thoughts: this little bag is a probability play ground.
Kids usually have so much trouble processing the general probability rules, and these little guys can work like manipulatives for said topics.
Put all woodland creatures in bag. If you mix the bag up well and select one animal, what is the probability that you pick a red animal or a fox? (Addition Rule for Nondisjoint Events)
Put all woodland creatures in bag. Manipulate assortments so bags only have species of one color. For instance - green foxes, red deer, purple squirrels, and red rabbits (I forget other two animals right now). Question: If you mix the bag up well and select one animal, what is the probability that you select a purple animal or a fox? (Addition Rule for Disjoint Events)
Put all woodland creatures in a bag. If you mix the bag up well, what is the probability you select a fox, return the fox to the bag, and select a rabbit? (Multiplication Rule for Independent Events)
Put all the woodland creates in a bag. If you mix the bag up well, what is the probability you select a fox, keep it, and then draw a rabbit? (Multiplication Rule for Dependent Events)
Are color and species independent? (Independence Rule)
Given that a green fox has been drawn and not replaced, what is the probability you draw a red squirrel? (Conditional Probability)
SO MANY possibilities! SO MUCH fun.
The main part, though - is that, with these manipulatives, kids can actually predict/see/count the answers, which really, really helps the formulas and calculations make sense.
Now, quit reading this, and go to Target.