The Holidays are a great time to incorporate math lessons into the family’s activities. The kids are out of school and most parents have at least a few days off of work. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Counting: There are lots of things to count! The Twelve Days of Christmas, the Eight Days of Chanukah, the Seven Days of Kwanzaa, presents, ornaments, cookies, places at the table, and so on.
Measurements & Conversions: Holiday baking provides all kinds of opportunities to learn math in a fun way! Here are some ideas:
1) Incorporate measurement conversions, e.g. if the recipe calls for tablespoons, figure out how many teaspoons to use instead.
2) Use a ruler to measure the diameter of a circular cookie cutter, then estimate the circumference (c=pi x d, or approximately 3 times the diameter). Approximating is an important skill!
3) Review the conversion of gallons to quarts to pints to cups.
4) Convert the oven temperature from degrees Fahrenheit to degrees Celsius. The correct way is to subtract 32 from degrees F, then multiply by 5/9, or C=(F-32)x5/9. You can approximate the answer by substituting 30 for 32 and 1/2 for 5/9, or C=(F-30)x1/2.
5) Keep the math conversation going with questions, such as: How many eggs are in a dozen? How many in a half dozen? How many ounces in a pound of chocolate chips? How many fluid ounces in a cup of milk?
Math in Art: Make snowflakes from white card stock and decide which ones are symmetric.
Holiday Glyphs: Glyphs are pictures that represent information. Kids love them because they get to answer questions and color or draw a picture to represent the answers. You can download a free elf glyph activity at http://www.mathwire.com/seasonal/winter06.html#elf. There are actually two files. The Elf Glyph Legend contains instructions and Elf Patterns contains the elf parts. The instructions are not complex and younger kids love this activity.
Christmas Humor: If you have a middle schooler with a quirky sense of humor, he or she is sure to love the Christmas math songs at http://musingsofamathteacher.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/funny-christmas-math-songs/. Can you sing “Rudolph the Statistician”?
Please share your ideas for incorporating math into the Holiday fun!