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Christmas Activities

Thursday 17 December 2015

Have a Merry Mathematical Christmas!

So with Christmas coming around again it is time to find some activities that will entertain the students in the last week yet offer something meaningful mathematical activity. Here's some of my favourite activities that I'll be turning to in the last week.

The Great Elf Game

This is an absolute favourite at my school and one that students will always ask for! It’s a game based on chance in which students have to make decision about running their elf business. Should you send the elves to the nearby woods to bring back little trees or to the dangerous faraway forest to bring back giant trees? The weather, and hence the safety of the team of elves is determined by the roll of a dice. The game develops in complexity and there are lots of bonus rounds to keep them on their toes and the excitement levels up! I tend to use a virtual die which I project onto the whiteboard. For some reason this adds to the excitment.

Festive Snowflakes

In this activity students use their computers and some dynamic geometry software to produce some beautiful symmetrical images. The crystalline structure of water has six-fold symmetry. Hence snowflakes tend to have the same symmetry. Quickly students can build up a sophisticated and realistic image of a snowflake. An added bonus of the activity I produced here is that students can share their images with the world by posting them on a google presentation (there are lots of examples already). An extra challenge of making the snowflake change colour or twinkle provides a nice extension.

Paper Baubles

Beautiful tetrahedral and dodecahedral baubles can be made from attaching triangles and pentagons and then some impressive Archimedes solids can be made from attaching hexagons and triangles. By keeping the tabs on the outside the shapes are really pretty and also easy to construct. The mathematical content of this activity can be beefed up by the students having to construct the shapes for themselves.

Christmas Hexaflexagons

Every student should make a hexaflexagon at some point. Why not do it at this time of the year and produce a Christmas themed one? A mathematical toy to give away!

Fractal Christmas Tree

Again I always think that I’d like to introduce students to fractals but struggle to find time or a place in the curriculum to fit them in. Students could learn about the Sierpinski triangle, the Koch Snowflake and the Manger Sponge fractals and put them altogether to make a Mathematical Christmas tree.

Fractals in Christmas Ornaments

Here’s an amazing demonstration of fractals and the Wada property that you can make with 4 reflective baubles, some scraps of coloured paper and a light source. Just beautiful!

Origami - Exploding Pyramids

There is a lot of potential to bring some paper folding into the classroom. I'm going to try this one with one of my classes this year. It looks like lots of fun. I just now need to find some christmassy paper to make them with...


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