Whether you are a classroom teacher or a homeschool parent, there’s no denying that December is one of the hardest times of the year to get kids to stay focused! All of the excitement and anticipation get the best of even the most studious kids, making it hard to introduce new topics or review old ones before pausing for Christmas break. So if you’re looking for a fun way to take your kids’ excitement for the holidays and use it to actually get some math practice done, try this Math Problem of the Day Christmas Countdown! It only takes 10 minutes to put together, but is such a great way to make sure some math gets done each day, as well as review everything you’ve learned before going on Christmas break!
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Materials Needed for a “Problem of the Day Christmas Countdown”:
To Assemble Your Countdown:
First, select your paper. I wanted to use fun Christmas paper, so I used four different scrapbook paper designs, two red and two green. You could just as easily use red and green construction paper, though.
Then, determine how many strips of paper you need. We are counting down to Christmas day, so I cut 24 strips, 6 of each design. I used a paper cutter to cut strips approximately 1.5 inches wide.
If you are a classroom teacher, however, and are only counting down to Christmas break, adjust your count as necessary.
Once you have all of your strips ready, it’s time to determine your math problems.
The excitement of this countdown is that the solution to the problem tells how many days until Christmas!
For example, our first strip reads, “25-1 = ____ days until Christmas!” and so on until our Christmas Eve strip which reads, “5-4 = ____ day until Christmas!”
So each day my kids will solve a simple addition or subtraction problem and determine the number of days until Christmas, but obviously you can use any type of math problem at all! Just be sure the solution is the correct number of days!
As you prepare your own, I suggest writing out all the problems on a sheet of paper first, to ensure that you don’t lose track or what day you’re on, or what your solution needs to be.
Writing them out first will also allow you to see all of the problems at the same time, making sure you are reviewing a variety of skills and topics (if necessary).
To help you find problems quickly, you may want to have your teacher’s edition textbook out so you can easily scan solutions, and then use the corresponding math problem.
Once you have all of your problems, it only takes about 5 minutes to write them out on your strips of paper.
Once you’ve written a problem on each strip of paper, loop them together with a stapler to create a chain, and then hang the chain in your home or classroom!
To Use Your “Problem of the Day Christmas Countdown”:
On December first, simply have students solve the problem of the day! Each day you can let a different child tear off the ring and read the problem to the group. Then you can have kids solve it and determine how many days until Christmas!
Obviously, if you have older kids, they may already know (or be able to figure out) how many days until Christmas without solving the problem.
To motivate them, you might have a sticker, piece of candy, pencil or other treat for every child who correctly solves the problem.
Or you could make it a race to see who can solve the problem of the day first. (Although I don’t like this as much, because then slower students may not even try, or will quit once someone figures it out).
Knowing what the solution should be is helpful for struggling students because if they don’t get the right number of days, then they know to go back and try again. Analyzing the problem and determining their mistake is incredibly useful in the learning process! 😉
I hope this provides a fun way to get excited about the holidays, while still reviewing and practicing important math skills!
Do you have any fun ways to help kids stay focused on their math work during the month of December? Please share with the rest of us! 🙂
Planning a Disney vacation? Check out this simple Disney Math Countdown!
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