The M&M game.

M&M’s are great learning tools. They are small enough you can use them to learn numbers and counting, they come in various colors to learn sorting and patterns, and they can be made into shapes. Then, as a treat, they can get eaten at the end of the lesson! Here are some lessons you can do with M&M’s – what our family calls “The M&M game.”


Simply place the M&M’s on the table – how every many you want – and ask the child to sort them into color groups. Sorting emphasizes that some things are the same (the same colors) and others are different (not the right color). Then have the child name the various colors that were sorted.


Take M&M’s and make a pattern. The first one we did was yellow-brown-yellow-brown-yellow (The contrast of the two colors is great). Then have the child do two tasks: First, add 3 M&M’s (or however many you want) to the end of the chain. This reinforces that patterns can continue. Second, have the child make a similar pattern with a set of M&M’s. This is a copying skill – you are asking your child to mimic something they see.


Decide what number you want to count to and place that many M&M’s in a pile. Ask the child to count the M&M’s in the pile. Once this is done correctly, eat the M&M’s. You can do this in conjunction with the other games: In the sorting game, have the child count the number in each pile before eating them. In the pattern game, have the child count the number in each pattern before they eat them.

Addition and Subtraction

Put some M&M’s on the table. Place one in front of the child. Ask how many have to be added to make two. Then have them move how ever many they say (one, two, or three) to the first M&M and count them. If they are wrong – if they said you needed to add 3 to the 1, instead of 1 to the 1, then they will count themselves wrong. Repeat this until the child has added correctly. You can do this with any number and any addition problems. It also works with subtraction.


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