Editor's note: This post was originally published November 1, 2015.
Your little superhero, ghost, or carrot in my case, just got home from trick-or-treating, and now pounds and pounds of candy sits on your kitchen counter. You might look at it and see cavities and sugar-highs. You might see it as an opportunity to snag a few of your favorite treats. I see it as an opportunity to learn.
Kids are drawn to things that are "out of the norm" and yours will love using their trick-or-treat loot as a vehicle for practicing basic math skills. Here are four high-interest, fun, and unique math learning activities you can do with your child:
Dump out your child’s bucket of candy and ask him to sort it. Watch to see what he does. There are many correct ways to sort, so make sure you take some time to figure out your child’s logic and reasoning. Ask questions to gauge where your child is at in his thinking. Encourage that "outside the box" type of thinking when plausible.
If you are looking to help your child work on classifying objects, and want to direct the activity, ask your child to sort by:
- packaging type (box, bag, bar, etc.)
- chocolate vs. non-chocolate
- candy they like vs. candy they don’t like
- size or brand
Your older children may be able to count ALL of their candy, while your younger children may need to count smaller sections of their candy. Here are a few questions to help guide this counting activity:
- How many candy bars did you get? (Ask to count a type of candy.)
- How many peanut butter cups did you get? (Ask to count a specific candy.)
- How many of your candies have yellow on the packaging? (Ask to count by color.)
Some add-on activities/extensions for counting include:
- Help your child put their candy into groups of 5's or 10's. Model how to count by 5's and 10's.
- Have your child estimate how many pieces of candy they collected.
- Have your child count and check to see how close their estimate was to the actual amount.
Graphing is a great way for your kids to put sorting and counting into practice. Familiarizing your children with graphs prepares them for some of the math activities they'll encounter in primary school.
- Open a few packages of multi-colored candy, and make a bar graph by color.
- Make a bar graph by brand. (Choose 4-6 brands that your kids received a lot of if necessary.)
- Make a Yes/No graph with the help of the family. Let each family member sample a type of candy and make a tally mark under "yes" or "no."
Take every opportunity you can to get your children in the kitchen. Cooking helps your children learn to follow directions and measure. It also introduces them to fractions, and provides a wonderful opportunity for bonding and memory-making.
There are so many fantastic recipes out there that incorporate candy. From cookies to bars to cupcakes, there's a treat out there for just about every type of candy your children will receive.
Whether you let your kids pig-out on their candy, cash it in at a local dentist, or ration it out over time, set aside a bit of their candy for learning. Happy Halloween!
What learning activities have you used Halloween candy for? Tell Scholastic Parents Facebook page© Robert Ingelhart/iStockphoto