K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

a rainbow of leaves


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Learning outcomes

Students will demonstrate proficiency in calculating mean, mode, median, and range to describe a given set of numbers using calculators when appropriate.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

60 Minutes


  • student calculators
  • overhead calculator and projector
  • math journals or index cards
  • markers
  • scissors
  • blackline patterns (optional)
  • colored construction paper (in fall colors: red, yellow, orange, brown, tan, green)

Technology resources

computer with internet access (optional, only if students are using recommended website resources)


Students should have a general understanding of how to take a given set of numbers and find the mean, mode, median, and range. General use of a calculator for finding the mean will also be helpful for fifth grade.


  1. Review mean, mode, median, and range with the overhead projector/calculator and student calculators.
  2. Lead students in assigning a number value to the alphabet sequentially (A=1, B=2, C=3, etc…)
  3. Have students write their first and last name in their math journals or on their index card and assign each letter a number value.
  4. Have students combine the first and last name values to create their number set.
  5. Allow students adequate time to find the mode, median and range of their number set.
  6. Students will use calculators to calculate the mean.
  7. Students will draw and cut a leaf shape using their construction paper.
  8. Students will write their name in the middle of their leaf with a marker and list the number values under the letters.
  9. Students will list the 4 different averages by name neatly underneath their names.
  10. Allow volunteers to share their averages and explain how they found them.
  11. Use the leaves as an Autumnal display in the classroom or hallway.
  12. Assessment

    The students will check each other’s work by trading leaves with a neighbor and finding the averages, comparing them to the originals for accuracy.

    The teacher will check the averages by sight and with a calculator to make sure that the students have a grasp of the skills needed to find the median, mode, range, and calculate the mean of a given set of numbers.

    Supplemental information

    See attached files for leaf blacklines (optional):


    This lesson meets primarily the fifth grade curriculum, however, it is easily adapted to fourth grade by excluding mean and use of calculators.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • Statistics & Probability
          • 6.SP.5Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context, such as by: Reporting the number of observations. Describing the nature of the attribute under investigation, including how it was measured and its units of measurement. Giving quantitative...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and use graphs, probability, and data analysis.
    • Objective 4.02: Describe the distribution of data using median, range and mode.

Grade 5

  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and use graphs and data analysis.
    • Objective 4.03: Solve problems with data from a single set or multiple sets of data using median, range, and mode.