During the holidays it can be easy for you and your students to get burnt out on math. After a few years of almost drowning during the holiday season, I started incorporating real-life math related to the holidays and had a lot of success with it!
Here are 5 [of many] ways to incorporate real-life math into your classroom in November & December!
My students go nuts for catalogs and ads. It's a little scary how into shopping they are! Give your students a shopping budget and they can subtract decimals for hours! Have them calculate percentages using their devices to look up the regular price (if it's not listed) to determine exactly how much they'll pay and how much they'll save.
You can use catalogs to compare prices as well. Students can use critical thinking skills to determine which stores are more expensive overall and write justification paragraphs explaining how they figured it out.
Have you ever cooked something in your classroom? If you have a good relationship with your school's kitchen, you may be able to get the cafeteria staff involved in making holiday cookies. This is also a good way to reach outside your classroom to build community!
Cooking involves measurement and fractions, two skills students struggle with. Real-life practice of these skills is essential in helping students understand them! Have students bring in measuring cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons so that you can have them prepare their recipe in small groups.
Don't want to bake anything? Search Pinterest for "no bake" cookie recipes. There are a lot of recipes that you don't need an oven for!
How well do your students divide decimals? Dividing decimals is one of those skills that is hard to master because it's hard to visualize. Grab a stack of circulars for some great real-world decimal division and more! Look for items that are two for a price (i.e. 2/$3.00). Pull out your play money and have students model the cost of each item.
You can also have students create a grocery list for their Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. We do this every year as a part of my Plan Thanksgiving Dinner project-based learning activity and students are SO into it!
Crafting involves following directions and can also include math! Have you ever made salt-dough ornaments? All you need is a few cheap ingredients and students can practice measurement during their holiday crafting!
Salt Dough Ornaments (Makes 8-10)
4 cups flour
1.5 cups water
1 cup salt
parchment paper & paper plates
cookie cutters and rolling pins
Mix in a large bowl. Have students knead and roll out with a rolling pin onto parchment paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and straws to cut the hole for the ornament.
Bake multiple ornaments on the parchment paper on a cookie sheet at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours (depending on size of ornament). Pain with acrylic paint the next day (on plates).
There are also a lot of paper crafts involving using a ruler to measure pieces. You can find quite a few of these on Pinterest!
A lot of math goes into planning a party! Have students work in groups using a specific budget and guidelines on what they need to plan. You can bring in grocery circulars and party store ads to practice the decimal and percent skills even more!
Choose a few of their ideas to actually implement, then invite families to your class party! Students always look forward to class parties and being such a big part of planning it will make them so excited to do math!
The best thing about the holidays is that you can have FUN with your students! Enjoy them and the season!
For all seasonal project-based learning activities in my store, click here.