Monday, December 15, 2008

Math Monday: Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, I have decided to study Christmas this week. For non-Christians, this is a great opportunity to learn about why Christmas is celebrated and the history behind some of the customs. However, I also want to ensure you that other non-Christian holidays will also be studied in the future as we believe it is important to study all cultures in order to promote tolerance. For my Jewish readers, we will be studying Hannakuh next week, and I encourage you to add to, or correct, anything I post. Now, onto the math.

- Learn about symmetry by cutting out Christmas tree shapes. Fold piece of green paper in half and, cutting on the folded side, cut out half a Christmas tree. When unfolded, the tree is symmetrical on the vertical plane and asymmetrical on the horizontal plane. This is a great vocabulary lesson as well (symmetric, asymmetric, vertical, horizontal, plane)

- Cut strips out of red and green construction paper and make a chain with them using a pattern of your choosing (red/green/red/green or red/red/green/red/red/green, etc).

- Younger children can help count candy canes as they are hung on the tree.

- This is a little late for this yar, but in future years, Advent calendars are great for kids of all ages. You can make your own, such as this one that uses cotton balls to create Santa's beard as Christmas nears, or this one that you fill with treats and is made from egg cartons. There are also tons of different ones at the store, from simple ones with a chocolate treat each day to PlayMobil ones where you get a piece of a nativity set each day to ones that you use your own treats to fill.

- There are tons of recipes out there for different cookies and other holiday treats. Here are a few:
Grandma's Gingersnaps
Sugar Cookies
Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

- There are also lots of recipes out there for holiday crafts such as Gingerbread play dough and sawdust clay, both of which can be molded into ornaments and left to dry.

Word Problems

- Jenna's mom wanted to make up trays of cookies to bring to each holiday party she was going to this year. She is planning on attending 3 parties this year and wants to have 3 dozen cookies on each tray. How many cookies will she need to bake? (this is a bit advanced, but this is also a great time of year to introduce the concept of a dozen) (Younger kids can look at your calendar or gift list with you and determine how many cookie trays you will need)

- Kevin's family is shopping for a Christmas tree. They have room for a 7 foot tree in their living room. Kevin's dad found a tree they really like that is 7 feet 4 inches tall(for older kids give them the whole measurement in inches: 88 inches). How much of the trunk needs to be trimmed off in order for the tree to fit in their living room?

- Jaime is shopping for Christmas gifts for his family. He has $20. He buys a candle for his mom for $3 (for older kids use more realistic amounts such as $3.82), a wallet for his dad for $5, a book about dogs for his brother for $2, and a scarf for his sister for $3. He wants to give the remainder of his money to the Salvation Army. How much money will he donate? (Alternatively, you can use your child's own Christmas shopping budget for similar word problems)

- Aimee is concerned about how many calories Santa must eat in one night. She decides to add up the calories in what she normally offers Santa. The egg nog has 343 calories and the cookies have 176. What are the total number of calories? What are some healthier alternatives (I know, not math, but school related anyway) Here is a website where you can find out the calories in different foods.

- Here is a worksheet to determine how many "nice" kids are on Santa's list.

- The Sanchez family volunteers every Christmas Eve, serving dinner at the homeless shelter. Carmen will be serving rolls. Each person is to get 2 rolls. If they serve 230 people, how many rolls will they need? The rolls come in packages of 12. How many packages do they need?

- Christmas lights use electricity. To find out how much more electricity your lights are using, do the following: 1) With the Christmas lights off, read your electricity meter and write down the number. 2) Go back 15 minutes later and read it again. 3) Turn on the Christmas lights. 4) Wait 15 minutes and go back and read the meter again. 5) Subtract the first number from the second number to see how much electricity your household uses in a "normal" 15 minutes. 6) Now subtract the second number from the third number to see how much electricity is used when the lights are on. 7) Subtract the "normal" amount of electricity from the amount with the lights on to see how much more electricity the lights use in 15 minutes. (You can multiply this number by 4 to see the difference used in an hour and then multiply that by the number of hours the lights are on. You can continue by multiplying it by the number of days the lights are on to get a seasonal total. You could also figure out the increased cost by finding out how much is paid per kilowatt and multiplying it by the increased nuber of kilowatts used.)

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