Holiday Math Crafts
Celebrate the season with hands-on creations that build essential math skills.
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Thanksgiving Fraction Pie
Combine the spirit of Thanksgiving (and messages of thanks) with equivalent-fractions practice, as kids make and share fraction pies. Divide the class into groups of twos and fours (for younger children) or into threes, fours, and fives (for older or more advanced children).
- Each group will need a large sheet of construction paper, a large pie pan, a ruler for each group member, pencils, oak tag, and crayons.
- Have kids trace the pie pan on the construction paper and cut out the circle, then work together using their rulers to divide their pie into equal pieces — one for each member.
- Each child outlines his or her pie piece in a different color and then draws a line through the piece, cutting it in half. Students will now see that their halves becomes fourths, thirds become sixths, fourths become eighths, and so on.
- Have students write a word or phrase on each of their pie pieces that tells why they are thankful, then glue the pieces of their pie back together onto oak tag circles. Display the Thanksgiving pies around the classroom.
Paper-Doll Greeting Cards
Your students will learn about symmetry as they design charming, accordion-style cards. Have students draw a 5" x 5" version of their favorite holiday symbol, such as a menorah, a Christmas tree, or a kinara, then cut out the drawing and fold it in half lengthwise. Next, have them fold a blank 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper accordion-style. They should then trace their drawings onto the front of the folded pages, making sure the drawing fills the entire page. (Check to see that the students' drawings reach and include the fold!) Guide or help students to cut along the lines of the holiday symbol, then have them color in each page and write a holiday greeting to a friend or family member!
Make math and music connections as you lead a lively sing-along of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Print out the words to the song and share them with students. Assign student groups a number from 1 to 12, and invite each group to draw a pictograph of their characters or animal(s). For example, Pair 8 will draw 8 maids a-milking. Then have the class join together for a rousing sing-along, each pair holding up their pictographs as you reach that part of the song. As you count down from 12 to 1, students will really test their concentration skills!
Challenge students to make their own two- and three-patterned decorative garlands. Give students the option of creating patterns of color, shape, or kind — or all three combined! Encourage them to develop their ideas on paper first. For example, a student might decide to make an orange snowman, a yellow snowman, and a blue snowman, followed by a purple wreath. When students are ready, give each a yard of colorful yarn or string on which to lace their patterned pieces. Then provide an array of materials and tools: beads, hole punchers, construction paper, crayons, glitter, glue, safety scissors, cotton, felt, and so on. When students are finished, display their unique patterned garlands. Have students compare and contrast the kinds of patterns used by the class. How many used a 3-2-1 pattern? A 2-2-2 pattern? Hang the garlands on a bulletin board in the hallway to share your math celebrations with other classes!
Throughout the Hanukkah celebration, many families set out a tzedakah, or Justice Box, where they collect money to donate to those less fortunate. Invite students to make their own tzedakahs while they build counting and sorting skills. Collect a small, medium, and large box, and cover each with plain paper. Divide the class into three groups and invite them to decorate the boxes. Place the boxes in the school foyer. Have kids create posters, letters, and e-mails asking the school community to bring in coins, cans of food, and old clothes, and sort them into the correct boxes: small, medium, and large. At the end of two weeks, have one group of students sort the coins and count the total amount collected. Have a second group count the collected cans and sort them by food type. A third group can sort the clothing by size and type, then fold the clothes neatly. Invite each group to record the results of their calculations on a colorful graph. Finally, donate your boxes to a local homeless shelter along with your helpful graphs and a class letter.