With Christmas approaching, lessons in class are often littered with appropriately themed resources. However, I have a somewhat scrooge-like reputation to protect, so am not too frivolous in my giving.
I don’t spend time or money decorating the classroom, nor do I introduce Christmas into the theme of lessons, unless it has a real purpose; there’s no room for ‘painting Father Christmas by numbers’, even if maths problem have to be solved in order to work out the number first.
But there are a few places where Christmas and maths naturally coalesce. The first is applying mathematics to the journey that Father Christmas must travel on Christmas Eve. There are plenty of opportunities to apply maths in this instance; to the speed of travel, the size of the sleigh, the minimum number of reindeer required and so on. But, unfortunately, Father Christmas and physics are not the best of friends so, in order to avoid an unhappy ending, I steer clear of this one.
Some people may be familiar with the desk calendars that are printed onto 3-D shapes, similar to that shown in the image below. This page [navigate from here if the link has expired] has a number of different options that are more exciting than what is essentially a cuboid – although I would encourage students to generate their own nets.
Moving away from ‘making things’, the American bank, PNC, has developed a Christmas Price Index – based on the amount it would cost to buy items from the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ (see here). I tend to start with a calculation of the number of presents, which is a source of surprise for many, before a calculation of the cost of buying all of those items – more than $100 000. The list of possible directions from here is endless, aided by the PNC supplying data as far back as 1984.
Note: The trend and the pie chart, below, refer to the PNC Christmas Price Index, which are both based on the cost of Day 12 alone, not the total cost of all days.