# Christmas Maths: Open ended investigations for Grades 4-6

In this final Christmas themed post, I am including a range of open-ended investigations that are suitable for upper primary and lower secondary students (from the book Engaging Maths: Everyday Investigations Years 3 to 6). You will notice that some of the investigations extend beyond the mathematics curriculum and integrate quite easily into other key learning areas. This is intentional. If we want to engage students in mathematics, then making it contextual often requires it to either be embedded within another subject area or at least have some connections to other areas. Another consideration is the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. When we incorporate contextual mathematics and investigation-based tasks, we are more likely to include the General Capabilities and this is evidenced in the activities below.

Short activities:

1. If you have a Christmas tree in your house or school, how tall is it? Can you reach the top of the tree by reaching up? How much taller than you is the Christmas tree? What fraction of the height of the tree is your height?
2. Draw a picture of a Christmas tree. Use your drawing as a plan to show where you will place the decorations.
3. Tie a piece of tinsel to the very top of the Christmas Tree. Wind the tinsel around the tree until you reach the lowest branch. What is the length of the tinsel?
4. If the individual lights of a string of Christmas lights are 30 cm apart, how many lights would you need so decorate the perimeter of the classroom?
5. How would you work out how much wrapping paper needed to wrap 10 presents that were each the size of a shoe box? Record all of your working out. What mathematics did you use?

Investigations:

1. Plan a Christmas party for some of your friends. Show all the mathematics that you need to use for your planning.
2. Many families start to budget for Christmas presents several months before Christmas day. Design a budget for the Christmas presents that you would like to give to your family members, relatives and friends. Perhaps you might like to include your teachers.
3. Survey the other students in your class using the question, “Do you have a Christmas tree in your home?” “Is it a real tree or an artificial tree?” “Which type of tree do you prefer and why?” Present the data that you have collected and present a report to your class.

Extension Activities:

1. Investigate and research the tradition of decorating a tree for Christmas. Answer questions such as “When did the tradition start?”
2. Plan menus for the meals for family for Christmas Day and Boxing Day and include a budget.
3. Make a list of the things you would like for Christmas. Sort your items into needs and wants. How would your list compare to the list of a child in a different country? Investigate.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts that have included many rich activities to keep students engaged with mathematics until the very last day of the school year. If you do implement any of the tasks, I would love to hear from you and see your students’ work samples!

# More Christmas Maths: Open-ended tasks and Investigations for the Early Years Classroom

The use of open-ended tasks and mathematical investigations provides opportunities for students to demonstrate their abilities in a creative, non-threatening and meaningful way while promoting high levels of engagement and providing rich assessment data. Although the end of the year is near, the use of Christmas as a context for meaningful mathematics is an opportunity that is too good to miss. Providing students with a context that is exciting and relevant will ensure they maintain their engagement with mathematics until the end of the school year.

This week I am sharing a set of tasks that are taken from a book written by John Pattison and myself: Engaging Maths: Everyday Investigations for Early Years (2014). The tasks are separated into short activities, investigations, and extension activities. The short activities are intended as a warm up for the more complex investigations.

Short activities:

1. This year how many days holiday will you have before Christmas Day? How many days will there be between the beginning of the school holidays and the last day of the year?
2. Do you have a Christmas tree? How tall is the tree? Can you touch the top of the tree if you stand on tip toe? Is the tree taller than your dad or mum? How many lights are there on the tree?
3. Does your family put presents under the Christmas tree? How many presents did each member of your family receive? How many of the presents were yours?
4. How much tinsel would you need to decorate the Christmas tree?
5. Your grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts and cousins are coming to your house for Christmas. If each person has a Santa bag full of presents under the Christmas tree, how many bags would there be?
6. If each person is given a knife, fork and spoon with which to eat their Christmas dinner, how many pieces of cutlery would you need altogether?

Investigations:

1. Make a list of the ten presents you would like Santa Claus to bring you for Christmas. Put the presents in order starting with one (1) for your first choice. Write a letter to Santa giving reasons for your choice of presents.
2. Use store catalogues to help you to find the cost of your list of presents. Santa has said that he can only supply one hundred dollars worth of presents. Which presents will he choose to give you?
3. Make a list of all the food items that Mum and Dad have to buy for the Christmas dinner. How many shopping bags will they need to take to the shops to carry all the food?

Extension Activities:

1. Christmas Day always takes place on the 25th of December. Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day and Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day. In 2013 Christmas Day was a Wednesday. What day was Christmas Eve and what day was Boxing Day in 2013? On which days of the week will Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day take place in the next five years? What did you discover?
2. Christmas celebrations are very different in other countries. Use the Internet and the books in your library to investigate how people in other countries celebrate Christmas. Share the information you discovered with your classmates and teacher.
3. There are many books with stories about Christmas in Australia. Find some of these books in the school library or on the Internet. Read your favourite story to the rest of your class.

# Christmas Maths Part 2: Open-ended tasks and Investigations for the Early Years Classroom

The use of open-ended tasks and mathematical investigations provides opportunities for students to demonstrate their abilities in a creative, non-threatening and meaningful way while promoting high levels of engagement and providing rich assessment data. Although the end of the year is near, the use of Christmas as a context for meaningful mathematics is an opportunity that is too good to miss. Providing students with a context that is exciting and relevant will ensure they maintain their engagement with mathematics until the end of the school year.

This week I am sharing a set of tasks that are taken from a book written by John Pattison and myself: Engaging Maths: Everyday Investigations for Early Years (2014). The tasks are separated into short activities, investigations, and extension activities. The short activities are intended as a warm up for the more complex investigations.

Short activities:

1. This year how many days holiday will you have before Christmas Day? How many days will there be between the beginning of the school holidays and the last day of the year?
2. Do you have a Christmas tree? How tall is the tree? Can you touch the top of the tree if you stand on tip toe? Is the tree taller than your dad or mum? How many lights are there on the tree?
3. Does your family put presents under the Christmas tree? How many presents did each member of your family receive? How many of the presents were yours?
4. How much tinsel would you need to decorate the Christmas tree?
5. Your grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts and cousins are coming to your house for Christmas. If each person has a Santa bag full of presents under the Christmas tree, how many bags would there be?
6. If each person is given a knife, fork and spoon with which to eat their Christmas dinner, how many pieces of cutlery would you need altogether?

Investigations:

1. Make a list of the ten presents you would like Santa Claus to bring you for Christmas. Put the presents in order starting with one (1) for your first choice. Write a letter to Santa giving reasons for your choice of presents.
2. Use store catalogues to help you to find the cost of your list of presents. Santa has said that he can only supply one hundred dollars worth of presents. Which presents will he choose to give you?
3. Make a list of all the food items that Mum and Dad have to buy for the Christmas dinner. How many shopping bags will they need to take to the shops to carry all the food?

Extension Activities:

1. Christmas Day always takes place on the 25th of December. Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day and Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day. In 2013 Christmas Day was a Wednesday. What day was Christmas Eve and what day was Boxing Day in 2013? On which days of the week will Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day take place in the next five years? What did you discover?
2. Christmas celebrations are very different in other countries. Use the Internet and the books in your library to investigate how people in other countries celebrate Christmas. Share the information you discovered with your classmates and teacher.
3. There are many books with stories about Christmas in Australia. Find some of these books in the school library or on the Internet. Read your favourite story to the rest of your class.