Lesson Plans:
The Basket Game:
A Lesson in Probability

Subject(s)/Grade(s): 4th Grade- Learning to play the Basket Game is appropriate for grades 3-6. Math - An introductory probability lesson would be helpful before beginning this lesson.
Related Subject(s): Cherokee Language, history of basket-making

Learning Outcomes

Using the basis of a Cherokee game, students will learn and apply the concept of probability. They will also learn how to play the Basket Game and use select Cherokee words that apply to the game.

  1. Student will discuss probability and predict possible outcomes in a realistic situation.
  2. Student will learn to play Cherokee Basket Game.

Teacher Planning

  • Time required for lesson: easily completed within a 45-minute time frame.


  • Shallow basket
  • Twelve playing pieces/markers (lima beans, shells, small rocks) for each group. Each marker must be colored on one side.
  • Recording sheet for each group should be provided.



  1. Markers should be colored on one side
  2. Students should be in groups of 6 or fewer.
  3. Each group should have a basket and 12 markers.


  1. Assign the groups a number of times to ”toss the markers“ in the basket.
  2. Record number of markers that are colored and not colored.
  3. After analyzing outcomes, have students predict probability of future tosses. Use terms of probability such as impossible, likely, more likely, equally likely, etc. Increase number of tosses each round.
  4. Repeat activity with different number of tosses. Discuss and analyze results.
  5. Play Basket Game. Encourage counting in the Cherokee Language.


  1. Students will receive feedback from teacher regarding their understanding of the lesson.
  2. Students will apply their knowledge of probability in future lessons.
  3. Students will engage in conversation and record keeping and will receive feedback from peers.


Included are Rules for Basket Game, Scoring for Basket Game, and Cherokee vocabulary.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Math (2003)
Current K-8 – Grade 4


  • See Wampum Belt PowerPoint notes for activities #1 & #2
  • Native American Arts and Crafts. New York: Smithmark Publishers, 1995.
  • Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present craftrevival.wcu.edu
  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian www.cherokeemuseum.org

– Donna Beck and Jonnie Walkingstick, Cherokee Elementary School, Cherokee, NC 28719