Thursday, November 27, 2014

Christmas and Winter Math for the Upper Grades!

Last night, I posted numerous ideas on how to infuse science during Christmas and the season of winter. Now I am beginning to think about what I want to accomplish for 2 1/2 weeks in math. I am going to extend the students' study of fractions a bit, begin reviewing the coordinate grid (four quadrant for a challenge), and properties of geometric figures. Also, because it correlates well with gifts and wrapping paper, I am beginning to review surface area and volume. Although I am giving a final exam in math soon, I want to make December a unique, hands-on, exciting month.

The only challenge is that it is somewhat difficult to find wonderful winter and Christmas-inspired math activities for upper elementary in comparison to the primary grades, where it is quite simple to find a treasure trove of activities.

However, I worked hard for you! I aspire to do the best (and only the best) with my fifth graders, challenging them while having FUN at the same time. Here are the activities I found (as well as thought of on my own) below.

1. TpT: Teaching with a Mountain View: To Grandmother's House We Go!
Grades: 4-7
Explanation: When it comes to stellar educators online, Mary from Teaching with a Mountain View is phenomenal. Her holiday packets encourage higher-order thinking on so many levels. This packet reviews multi-digit multiplication and long division, perimeter and area, measurement, decimal computation (money), fractions, problem-solving, multi-step problem solving, elapsed time, and data and graphing. She offers options for differentiation, and the best part is that you never have to focus on every part of the packet to have a wonderful lesson for your students.

2. A few things you can do that relate to theme parks during the holiday season are...
- Focus on Disney's Candlelight Processional. If approximately 400 high school students perform in every show and there are three shows a evening for 33 days, approximately how many high school performers will be on stage for the processional this holiday season?
- Look at the length of one of the songs from the show, such as "O Holy Night". If this song is performed 99 times this season, how many hours and minutes will it be performed in all?
- Each group of performers consists of the bass, tenor, alto, second soprano, and first soprano sections. Listen to one of the songs that has distinct male and female performance moments. What fraction of the performance did just males perform vs. just females? (Seconds performed/Seconds the song lasts in all) Can you reduce the fraction to smallest terms?
- Think about the stage of performers. There are those who make up the "tree" section, dressed in green, and then the Voices of Liberty. How many performers make up those two sections? If there are approximately 400 high school performers, what fraction does the Voices of Liberty comprise? What fraction does the "tree section" comprise?
- Write problems for your students (or have them write some themselves) using facts from Disneyland Resort: Holidays by the Numbers.
- Determine how much it would cost you (and your family, or you and a few friends) to purchase a 3-day ticket, tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and/or show/meal tickets to EPCOT's Candlelight Processional. How much would it cost for you to stay with your family and friends in one of Disney's hotels for a few evenings during the holiday season? (Decimal computation connections-- How much would it cost per person in your group to stay in the hotel? Remember, four people typically share one room. (Decimal Division) How much would it cost to stay at the hotel in December vs. staying in January? (Subtracting Decimals) How does staying in one of the luxury hotels compare with one of the moderate or budget hotels? (Subtracting Decimals))
- Determine how much it would cost you to visit all kinds of attractions and watch all kinds of shows during the holiday season. If I choose to do this, I am going to hand my students a calendar and have them come up with a schedule of events they will "attend". Since my students live in Florida, they have quite a bit to choose from in Orlando, Tampa, and further cities. (Don't forget to tally tax for each event.)

3. Shopping during the holiday season... 
-  Have your students "purchase" gifts for family members and friends. (I am combining products from a variety of catalogs into one packet so they have one central store to shop at.) Have them tally in sales tax. (Further challenge-- Have them apply various "discounts" of 10%, 25%, and 40% off to their purchase to see how much money they are saving.)
- Can you or your students come up with some word problems using this infographic from Forbes-- Black Friday by the Numbers? (For example, 417 million iPads were sold in 2013. Approximately how much in commission came from iPads?)

4. Pure Awesomeness from!
- From this website on, I was able to find out this fact about the 2012 holiday season regarding trees: 24.5 million "real" Christmas trees were sold in 2012, and approximately 14% of them were "cut-your-own". How many of the trees were "cut-your-own"?
- Also, more than 70 million poinsettia plants were sold in 2012 over the course of a six-week period, so approximately how many were sold weekly? (What is 70,000,000 divided by 6?)
- 2.7 million candy canes were manufactured by the Spangler Candy Co. daily in 2012. How many candy canes were manufactured every hour? (2.7 million divided by 24) How many were manufactured over the course of one week? (2.7 million multiplied by 7) How many boxes of 12 candy canes can that accommodate? How about boxes of 18?
- If you need to see a stunning infographic with even more information, go here--

5. Baking: 
Link to tons of sugar cookie recipes:
Classic Christmas cookie recipes:
Sandwich cookie recipes:

- As students bake cookies, of course they have to use fractions! Only once before have my students made delectable goodies from scratch, but this year I am going to do it as well. Last night, I mentioned students are going to learn about the connections to thermal energy and physical and chemical changes, which they likely already know, though the fraction coverage will be wonderful as well.
- Furthermore, you can have each group of students double their recipes before they bake, which requires them to add fractions.

6. Surface Area and Volume with Gifts!
- Students are going to wrap some gifts for me for the holiday dance.
- They are also going to donate decorated shoe boxes with gifts inside to our local children's hospital, All Children's Hospital. I initially got this idea from Beth Newingham; here is the letter she wrote to her students' families about the cause.
- Both these activities can relate quite a bit to surface area and volume. Students have to estimate how much wrapping paper they need to adequately wrap a gift, which relates to surface area. Then it's also interesting to look at items like video game consoles and what adequate volume of a box needs to be to accommodate it.

7. Coordinate Graphing from a Seventh Grade Teacher!
Explanation: Needless to say, these student products are fantastic. You can provide coordinates for your students or have them come up with some on their own.

8. Pi Ornaments (With All Kinds of Challenge!) from Miss Math Dork: 
Explanation: "Miss Math Dork" used some wonderful higher-order questioning with her students to make five batches of Pi ornaments. Though this is intended for middle school, I may try this!
Here is the recipe she used for the ornaments:
Pi Cookie Cutter:

9. TpT: Geometry Town Project: 
Grades: 5-10
Explanation: I know this is not specifically intended for the holiday season, but it could be used during the holiday season with Christmas elements.

More will be added as I think of ideas! Also, if you think of one, submit it to me and I will put your name there as one who submitted. Thank you for your support, and have a beautiful holiday season!

By the way, this snowman is from a clipart collection I designed three years ago!

No comments:

Post a Comment