Believe it or not, Halloween is just around the corner! To get my kids excited and seize the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some beautiful Fall weather, we decided to try a little experiment. It all started with a simple enough question: “How many squares of toilet paper do you think it would take to wrap you up like a mummy?” Challenge accepted. Learn how we turned this fun and silly activity into an afternoon full of Mummy Math with a simple Halloween estimation and measurement challenge!
To prepare, we grabbed a handful of toilet paper rolls and some rulers, and headed outside.
I wanted to help my kids start thinking about educated guesses, and ways we can try to logically estimate, rather than just throwing random numbers out there. Admittedly, this was a challenge for my kids (ages 4, 5 and 6), but I don’t think it’s ever too early to start!
To begin, we measured one square of toilet paper, which was approximately four inches long. We then decided to start by wrapping just my daughter’s arm to try and get an idea for the rest of her. After measuring her arm as well, my daughter estimated 12 squares of toilet paper to cover her arm.
And she was right!
We took that to estimate what it would take to wrap up the rest of her. She’s not able to count by 12’s, so we used 10 and counted by tens to try and estimate a total. She counted to 100, and so we all guessed a number around 100 for the total number of squares.
Then it was time to finish wrapping her up like a mummy!
If you are working with a large group, or bigger kids, you may not want to use rolls and rolls of toilet paper. Instead, use the small section you start with to estimate the rest. Talk about different ways to calculate the estimate, such as using the same amount for the other arm, a little more for each leg, etc.
Or use the same piece that you’ve wrapped around an arm to wrap up other parts and see what fraction or percentage you’re able to cover. Then base further estimates off of that. (For example, if you use that piece to wrap the leg, and you’re only able to wrap up half a leg, you can double it for a whole leg).
Definitely be mindful of reducing waste, and look for other uses for the toilet paper squares after you’ve finished the lesson (such as crafts, cleaning up messes).
I will be honest, it was not easy to wrap effectively and count at the same time. So our final answer may not have been perfectly exact, but it was great fun! And a fantastic opportunity for my younger ones to practice counting!
My youngest daughter helped me wrap and count while my son kept track of the numbers. Each time we did a section, we would tear it off and start another.
When we were done, we added up all the numbers, and the grand total? 126 squares!
My daughter was surprised, because this was actually not even one whole roll of toilet paper. Her original guess, before we started to measure and think about estimation techniques was that it would take 5 rolls to wrap her up head to toe.
After we finished, we had some discussion about how we estimated our Mummy Math, as well as how our total would change if we had wrapped the toilet paper tighter or closer together.
I also asked if we would need more or less to wrap up her brother and sister, and they quickly responded with, “Definitely less!”
“Well, how do you know?” I asked.
“Because they’re smaller!” True that.
Overall, this was SO FUN! They thought it was hilarious, and didn’t even complain when I asked them to clean up the ginormous pile of toilet paper all over the yard! 😉
If you have older ones, there are lots of ways you can explore this further, such as making more precise estimations based on the length of each square, or figuring out the total length of toilet paper after you find the total. (In our case, it would be about 504 inches long, or 42 feet).
What are some other ways you could extend the learning in this simple Mummy Math activity? Do you have any fun ideas for Halloween estimation and measurement activities?
Looking for more Mummy Math ideas? Try reading the book, Mummy Math by Cindy Neuschwander!
This is a fun way to teach and explore 3D shapes and would be fun around Halloween or along with a study of Ancient Egypt.
Want more ideas to take math outside? Try one of these:
Never Run Out of Fun Math Ideas
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