Halloween is fast approaching and the kids are getting restless. Now is the time to come up with some creative activities to fill those exciting moments leading up to the big day. Why not incorporate a little bit of math? Here are five ideas to get the juices flowing.
Candy Corn Jars
Get three different sized jars and fill each with candy corn. Then have a contest to see who can come the closest to guessing how many are in each jar. Older children can help count the candy when the contest is over and can learn about the concepts of volume and surface area. Younger children can be guided into discussions about size comparison and which jar holds the most candy versus the least.
Teach children about geometry by having them creatively use different shapes. Cut circles, ovals, triangles, squares, and rectangles out of construction paper and place in a witch’s hat. Ask children to pick out five shapes each and create a Halloween scene by gluing the shapes onto paper and adding details with crayons. For preschool children, provide patterns of bats, spiders, scarecrows, or pumpkins to follow, and supply the shapes needed to complete the patterns.
Get wooden-shaped bones at the craft store and embellish them with paint or markers. Have children take turns throwing ten bones into a box decorated like a coffin. Then help them figure out how many bones they got in and how many they did not get in. Older children can be asked to make an equation, either addition or subtraction, and can do the activity multiple times while keeping track of their total score.
Bag of Critters
Fill a paper bag to the halfway mark with different colored plastic spiders. Try to have at least four different colors for this game. Taking turns, have the kids pick spiders out one by one, graphing how many of each color they get after they have picked ten. After the activity, children can compare their graphs to see who got the most of each color. Recording sheets can be prepared ahead of time.
This activity could also work with different colored gummy worms. In this case, the kids might enjoy the yucky feel of the worms as they reach into the bag. If the candy sticks together, try adding a small sprinkle of flour before the game begins.
Purchase several small, hollow plastic pumpkins and attach Velcro or sticky paper in a crisscross pattern around the diameter. Make a dartboard with a large piece of fuzzy felt glued to cardboard and use glitter to mark the circles and score amounts. Play darts by having children throw their pumpkins at the dartboard and count up their points. For small children, make the point amounts little and have them play until they reach five.
Getting kids to do their math may seem like a challenge during the holiday season, but by using ingenuity and a few creepy details, parents and teachers can put a little sugar coating on a tough subject and relinquish some of the guilt that goes along with a holiday full of candy.