Holidays and Annual Events

Investigations that relate to regular annual events.

Pre-winter holiday activities!

Christmas tree lights – Students first guess how many feet of lights would be required to decorate this tree.  The class finds the mean and median of those guesses.  Then they brainstorm and refine their guesses. Lastly they figure out how…

It’s latke time

In my family it is traditional to eat latkes (Yiddish for potato pancakes) at this time of year.  They are fried in a lot of oil and salted generously.  My mom’s latkes were wonderful but they couldn’t have been good for…

Wrapping presents on the diagonal

Dr. Sara Santos is a popular mathematician and speaker on mathematics.  She has worked out a method for wrapping boxes (rectangular prisms) as efficiently as possible. (Watch the video above)  Her method was written up in this article in Mental Floss and…

Do I have enough wrapping paper?

I have to wrap this box. In this problem based activity students first guess and then try to calculate whether they will have enough paper to wrap this present without taping pieces of wrapping paper together. …with this wrapping paper …

Christmas tree lights – How many do I need?

Check out our Christmas Tree.  You need to buy lights for the tree.  Without calculating, guess how many feet of lights you will need.What information do you need to better estimate the number of feet of lights that you need?…

Giant macaroon nutcracker, revisited

Each year the Boston Ballet highlights the holiday season with the Nutcracker ballet.  In 2014, the Boston Ritz Carlton Hotel’s chef, Andrew Yeo and his pastry team, created a gorgeous and massive Nutcracker cake of macaroons and fondant to celebrate the…

Consumer Spending 2016

We spend a lot of money as consumers in the U.S. In this activity we look at historical data to see if there are any patterns in our spending.  How does our holiday spending show up in these graphs?  What…

Black Friday, football, and giving

Construction This is a 3-act activity about an annual display of creativity, engineering, and design as artists contribute cans of food for the shelters and food banks of their city.  Students analyze, look for patterns, discuss solutions, and finally quantify the number…

Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, 2016

As we get ready for next week’s holiday, students can study a map of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, describe, measure and hypothesize why this route was chosen and then calculate how long each band will be marching and…

Veterans Day

As Veterans Day approaches, let your students learn about and appreciate the meaning of the day by analyzing the powerful data that we’ve supplied. Students can use our numbers to create questions for their classmates … questions that can emphasize the tremendous gift…

Halloween tricks and treats – 13 activities

How many houses can you get to – It’s Halloween. Time to trick or treat.  How long will it take you to get to all of these houses?  This is a very open-ended task, counting, trick or treating strategies, distance and more.…

Which is the best candy deal?

Clicking on any of the above images will open the image larger in a new window. We found big mixed bags of candy at really good prices … we think. Students are asked to decide which would be the best deal…

Collecting the most candy!

Use your student’s Halloween enthusiasm to do a study on volumes.  We’ve created an activity that asks students to calculate the volume of candy containers that are silly and intriguing.  Skip the cone and the sphere to make this activity…

Columbus and navigation

The Niña Columbus Day is a bit of an enigma that used to be celebrated all through the Americas.  Columbus’s mission and arrival are now thought to have not been a noble endeavor in the way that indigenous people were treated.  Now,…

Labor Day, 2016

In this short activity, students learn the meaning and history of Labor Day as they look for patterns emerging from the Labor Day dates over the past years. Students then use those observed patterns to predict future dates of the…