Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Merry Mathsmas

That's the end of the Mathsmas Advent Calendar for 2012. Tomorrow is the last day for students to attend for us, then two days of Staff Development then the holidays!!

Merry Mathsmas Everyone!

Day 24: Christmas origami

I've always done a bit of origami at the end of the year to decorate the classroom.

One of my favourites from other years has been this sweet little Santa. Unfortunately the instructions are not in English but most of it is pretty clear and a quick bit of translation is easy enough.

This year I tried a bunch from this extensive list.

This little bear is already off to carry a Christmas present. Each year some of the staff do "Christmas Angels",  which is like a secret Santa but you do little things for the person all week.

The poor snowman can't stand up with his heavy scarf on. He had to have a lie down for his photo shoot.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Day 23: Christmas Number Plane Pictures

I love number plane picture activities. Plotting coordinates and getting a cute little creature or scene to colour in. For a real challenge though, get them to make their own. Here are some from our students last year.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Day 22: Number Pattern Christmas Lights

Thanks to the excellent crew on the department's social network Maang (specifically the Maths group Axiom) once again for a brilliant idea. The original was Christmas trees that lit up. My version is strings of Christmas lights.

Each string represents a number pattern and each bulb is a term in the pattern. Type in the missing terms in the blank (white) bulbs. When you finish the last term, the whole string lights up! It's pretty funky!

The first sheet is addition and subtraction, staying in the positive numbers. The second is addition and subtraction including negatives. And the third is multiplication and division patterns.

Here's an idea of what they look like when complete.

Have fun! I hope you're all enjoying the last week of term. I know I am.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Day 21: Fraction Word Puzzle

One of the New Century books, the Year 7 Teacher Resource Pack, has a fraction puzzle where you take a specified fraction of each word and add those letters to the blanks to complete a riddle. I've used this sheet a lot and had lots of fun with it. So I made my own for Mathsmas.

Also, making the think up was a very demanding literacy task for me! Once your students have had a go at one of these types of puzzles, get them to make up their own. There's loads of quote sites around or they can use some favourite song lyrics or whatever else. Thinking of words that contain the letters you want can be quite tricky.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Day 20: More Nets

On Day 17 I mentioned PaperCritters and the idea of getting students to make Christmas characters. I tried this yesterday and it was lots of fun! Some cute reindeer and elves and the Grinch.

I thought I'd share a few of mine with you so that you can use them if you like. The reindeer don't have antlers, but I marked some slits on the top to insert some.

First, the colourful Rudolph.

Then I did the reindeer and a snowman in black and white, since most teachers are probably like me and don't have easy access to colour printing or photocopying. That way they can be coloured in before assembly instead.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Day 19: Open-Ended Questions for Mathsmas

I recently used a lot of open-ended questions when teaching measurement to year 7. My favourite question ideas were from "Open-ended Maths activities" by Sullivan and Lilburn and I reviewed a couple of those ideas in this post.

Some Mathsmas ideas:
  • What gift could you fit in this box? This stocking?
  • If this stocking contained 10 presents, what size might they be?
  • Draw a (reindeer/santa/elf/present/stocking/wreath) with an (area/perimeter) of x units.
  • Make a Christmas design that is three-quarters red and one quarter green (use grid or isometric paper or pattern blocks)
  • My friend and I ate all of a Christmas cake which was cut into 8 equal pieces. What fraction of the cake might each of us have eaten?
  • Advent number of the day - use today's date or 25 for Christmas and ask students to write as many questions as they can think of with that number as the answer
  • Two presents have the same volume but different mass. What could they be?
  • What methods could you use to try to determine what is in a present without opening it?
  • I used 1 metre of ribbon to wrap a present in the shape of a rectangular prism. What might the dimensions of the present be?
  • I have 1 square metre of wrapping paper. What size presents could I wrap with it?
  • Draw a Christmas design that has four lines of symmetry.
  • Draw a Christmas design that has rotational symmetry.
What else would you add to this list?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day 18: Christmas Tarsia

You can turn ANYTHING into a Christmas activity or decoration, if you really want to.

I made some tarsias in the "rhombus" shape and with some green, red and white paper and some decorative cutting, they become Mathsmas decorations!

Now I've caught up!! Back to one a day. Not long to go now!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Day 17: Christmas nets

Nets are great fun, and this year I'm starting to discover the abundance that are out there in the papercraft world.

We start with the very simple at Kidzone (which also has a bunch of other Christmas worksheets). They have a cube, rectangular prisms and a triangular pyramid/tetrahedron. You can print them in colour or in black and white and let the students colour them.

Then we can move on in difficulty and prettiness, although these ones are all meant to be printed in colour. There's this adorable December 2012 snowman desk calendar (all of these calendars are incredibly awesome, I'll have to start keeping an eye on this site). I liked it so much I enlarged it (manually, which is why it sits all wonky). I'm crossing off the days until the last one!

I'd love to use some of their ideas to make a big calendar for each term next year. Their Nutcracker from last December is awesome too.

I haven't tried these ones yet but I'm keen to. There are some crazy Japanese monkey things complete with presents, sleigh and tree plus lots of elves plus Santa, reindeer, sleigh and tree at this site.

I also discovered a nice paper toy creator at PaperCritters where you can draw and add features to the different views of your creature then print out the net. Here's the test one I made. Maybe get kids to make a Christmas character.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 16: Christmas Mazes

A quick search will find you a LOT of Christmas Mazes and similar puzzles. Here are some highlights.
  • The ones at Classroom Jr are straightforward and cute. These are the ones in my patented Mathsmas folder.
  • Activity Village have a few, but this Christmas Tree one is just beautiful. Forget the maze, I just want to colour this in.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Day 15: The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas. It's full of mathematical opportunities.
  • For primary school kids, you can focus on the numbers - drawing pictures of the gifts, using either the original version or an Australian version. Maybe the kids could come up with twelve days of gifts on another theme and illustrate those.
  • Find the total number of presents given over the twelve days. This opens up a lot of potential for strategies for adding lots of numbers and looking for patterns.
  • Or, use it as an exercise to learn the basics of formulas in Excel.
  • The daily gift totals are triangular numbers. I find students forget triangular numbers easily (even though... they make a triangle... seems straightforward to me) so another opportunity to discuss them is good. Since they make a triangle, they can become a Christmas tree, or a Santa hat... is there anything else triangular at Christmas?
  • The presents also relate to the numbers in Pascal's triangle, as this exploration shows (and Pascal's triangle also makes a Christmas tree...). I imagine drawing up a big Pascal's triangle and putting it up somewhere, then moving on to a Twelve Days activity, working out the numbers. Then ask the kids if they can see those numbers anywhere in the room....
  • Check out Vi Hart's Christmath Special video for some other funny and interesting ideas. You could put up the numbers from 1 to 12 and get your kids to come up with interesting things about that number and make their own song.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Day 14: Snowflakes

Paper snowflakes. A Mathsmas essential. My snowflake-making craft has improved significantly since the advent of Mathsmas. Largely through lessons learnt from "Make your own paper snowflakes", which I bought as a gift for a colleague then shamelessly borrowed and used extensively. Did you know they are supposed to be hexagon-based? You probably did. I didn't.

So I did a worksheet all those years ago with a cloze passage, some facts, symmetry, and folding based on working out the angle to fold it on. Here it is.

Of course there are other cool snowflakes to make, like these twisty paper ones. For me, the little snips and cuts and experimentation of the traditional ones has a certain feel to it.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Day 13: Christmas Enlargements

A couple of years in a row I had the lowest year 8 class, trying to do rates and ratios at the end of term 4. Not the easiest task. One thing I latched onto was enlargements using a grid.

Originally I was just taking images from the internet of popular animals and cartoon characters, but obviously to share here I'll stick to my own work. No new illustrations I'm afraid, but I've reused my reindeer and a penguin from the ratio pictures.

Grid Enlargement Reindeer Grid Enlargement Penguin

Here is the proforma to make some more (not that it's hard to make, but save yourself some time). All you need to do is insert the image.

Grid Enlargement Proforma

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Day 12: Calculator Word Stories

These are from an Australian company called 10 Ticks that I signed up for a while ago. They have a whole bunch of worksheets with some very cool, different ideas, and they also have a whole pack of Christmas maths worksheets.

You have to sign up, and for a while they seemed to send a lot of emails, but I haven't noticed that recently.

These word stories are pretty cool. The idea is you answer the questions on the calculator and it makes a word which you then fill in to the story.

You could get a class to do this (Christmas or not) as an activity to write their own stories. On second thoughts, maybe they shouldn't write their own stories. They would all be about boobs.

Other sheets from the Christmas pack include permutating baubles (exploration of permutations using colours), Christmas symmetry, and some general puzzle-type things.

They also have a colour-by-solutions Christmas pack. This is an idea I've explored myself, a colour-by where the work is a little bit harder and the answers aren't necessarily numbers. Mine was a colour-by-like-terms. I'll have to find that. And make it Christmassy. I think it was a dinosaur.

Anyway these ones include simplifying fractions, colouring by rounding, by number properties and by substituting into an algebraic expression. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Day 11: Oh Mathsmas Tree

My sister called me yesterday to give me the news story that mathematicians have worked on the calculations required for the perfect Christmas tree. Best made-up-headline-word ever: Treegonometry.

Not sure if my tree from previous years is going to cut it.

This was the year I made it. I cut into a whole lot of sheets of green (and brown) paper and assembled with lots of blutac and masking tape.

Then we decorated. With origami santas and presents and some other stuff. There's a bauble that says "I love octagons".

I took the tree down piece by piece and reassembled it last year.

This year I'm thinking of going three-dimensional, after seeing this tutorial linked on Pinterest. Drawing up a net for that would be a great maths activity.

After construction, I might refer to that article to calculate the required size for our tree topper. And I'm sure there are more ways to enrich decorating the Mathsmas tree. Maybe some baubles with problems on them to solve before using to decorate. Hmm....

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Decennial Dalek

There was a lot of procrastinating about the Dalek. The students voted to have a Dalek, and my year 10 class especially liked to ask where the Dalek was.

One of them in particular.

"Miss, look at the wall. What do you see?"
*I hang my head in mock shame*
"Because I'll tell you what I DON'T see! A Dalek!!!"

So I decided to name the Dalek in his honour.

We all agreed that "memorial" was inappropriate, but had trouble working out a better term. So since he was completing year 10, we went with "Decennial" for, I understand, a 10th anniversary. He was pretty happy with the honour.

Donald is now over beside the Pencil Pal, to make room for the Dalek.

And Stitch remains in his old spot, pretty much. One of my year 7 students wrote up that tip, and I had to ammend it on instruction from a year 11. Although he did say you only appear to have more mass, to an observer. And less height or something. "So travelling very fast in space you appear shorter and fatter?" "Yes." I'll take his word for it.

Day 10: Christmas Sudoku

Sudoku with Christmas symbols instead of numbers. Some kids ones here and here. Not a bad intro to sudoku for kids who aren't already familiar with it, but way too easy for those who are.

This one's a bit bigger and uses the words from "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" and "Seasons Greetings". Your handwriting sure deteriorates writing whole words. But it's very achievable for a learner too.

To teach kids the ideas of Sudoku, I also found this Christmas Sudoku to play online that takes you through filling in the gaps with increasing difficulty. It's a very short run through, but you could discuss it as a class as a starting point.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Day 9: Christmas Codes

Another one of Michael's recent teaching activities. Rather than just giving out notes or reminders, he's been encoding them using dingbat fonts and getting the students to work them out.

The first time you do this with a class, it's good to give them the first line or at least a word or two to get them started. After that, talk about the common letters and words that are most likely to appear, or look at double letters, so they can start working them out for themselves. The more you do this activity, the better at it they will get.

There's lots of great free fonts out there for this, although some cool ones don't have the whole alphabet, or don't include numbers. I tend to look at dafont and I used Xmas Dings for this one.

Use it to encode wordy definitions at the start of a topic, or a summary at the end (this is a good one because they should have some idea of what words will appear). Or for reminders about what to bring to class, what topics will be studied this term, or class rules.

Get students to write their own summary of a topic and encode it and swap with another student to crack the code. Or give pairs of students a topic each from the whole year to summarise, encode, then give out a copy of each to the whole class.

Since it's Mathsmas, make a series of encoded clues to solve a greater puzzle and give a prize for the first to piece all the clues together.

Need a clue? The title is Triangles.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Day 8: Christmas Civiballs

What is it about me making a commitment to regular blog posting. It's an instant "get sick now" instruction to my body! I'm only feeling a little sick, but it's enough of an excuse (plus it's Sunday) to focus on another game today.

I got addicted to Civiballs a couple of years ago. The Christmas version is equally good. Again it's reasoning and logic, and also I think these strategies games require perseverence, which is a useful academic virtue. And it's super fun.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Day 7: Christmas Maths Worksheets Part 2

It was weird that when I searched recently for Christmas maths worksheets that this one didn't come up in the first couple of pages. I even tried searching for the specific topics I knew the sheets were on, but no result. I had to go to my hard-copy Mathsmas folder and find the URL there. They are from Maths-Worksheets who have a whole section on Christmas worksheets. How did this not come up??

Sheets include loads of topics, mainly worded problems based around a Christmas theme. They range from basic operations up to some difficult data, probability and measurement problems.

Favourites of mine include the ones about wrapping paper and ribbon required for wrapping different presents (perimeter and surface area), the temperature in different areas around Santa's workshop (negative numbers), and how likely you are to pick a present of a certain colour out of a stocking (probability).