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Make Math More Fun with a Holiday Project

December is such a fun, busy month for teachers and students! Since energy levels tend to be a bit higher as students await a break from school, teachers need lessons that will truly hold student interest. A great lesson to include is one that many students will have familiarity with and positive memories with baking cookies! Cookies are often food that students can relate to. Plus, so many love the colorful frosting and sprinkle options that the holidays bring. 

Whether students are virtual or in-person, this lesson can be adapted to fit both groups while also incorporating productive group work for those at school and family interaction for those at home. 

Standards

This lesson not only includes rigor and excitement, but it focuses heavily on important standards. In this unit, students will: 

  • Add and subtract whole numbers and decimals
  • Multiply fractions and mixed numbers
  • Convert units of measurement

When lessons are engaging and fun, students naturally become more excited to complete the project. When this happens, their level of thinking also naturally deepens. This lesson will help students focus and analyze three key standards while not even realizing how much schoolwork is going into the project, which becomes a win-win for teachers and students!

Step 1: Store Flyers

To help show students see the real-world connection to this lesson, you can collect grocery flyers from local stores. If you call or stop by the store, many will have multiple copies you can take! Grocery ads typically have a section of popular baking ingredients on sale around the holidays to help students easily locate their necessities. If you are short on time or there are no extra copies, a grocery flyer with the product pricing is included with the lesson.

Step 2: Number of Guests

As with any party, it is vital to know the number of guests in order to have enough food. To do this step, students will roll virtual or in-person dice, add the number together, and add two more. Once they do this step, the excitement begins in planning the cookie exchange!

Step 3: Let’s Get Planning! 

In order to cook, students need to plan. They will first calculate how many dozen cookies are needed and then select from one of the cookie recipes. The recipe includes what is needed for a set amount of cookies, so students will have to decide which recipe works best for the number of cookies they need! This may be a great spot to stop and have a conversation about weighing the cost of items compared to how much is needed. It will be important for students to realize each recipe requires a different list of ingredients and yields a different amount of cookies!

After the cookie selection, it is now time to involve a lot of math, but students will be so engaged while doing so. First, students need to convert the amount of each ingredient in their chosen recipe to fit the number of cookies they need to make. The spreadsheet will walk students through each ingredient to help reduce any confusion or errors. 

Step 4: Let’s Go Shopping! 

While at the store with family, students may not realize how quickly items add up. This lesson is going to help them be more aware of what they are buying. Each student has a $200 budget for the ingredients and for purchasing something to store the cookies in. Students have to stay within their budget, so planning with the ads will be essential. If students have any money left, they can also share what they will use it for and why.

It is vital to remind students to check their work during this stage. They don’t want to run out of a certain ingredient or get to the “check-out” line and not have enough money. 

Step 5: Time to “Bake”

Students will now be able to draw the cookies they made. Hopefully, they did the math and conversions correctly and had enough ingredients! If your students have the time and resources, they may want to bake the cookies for extra fun. 

Differentiation

This lesson is filled with different ways to incorporate accommodations and modifications. For example, students may be allowed to use a calculator to help complete all math required. There is also a conversion “cheat sheet” to help calculate what is needed for the recipe. 

For students who need a challenge, you can bring in grocery flyers from multiple stores. Students will have to find the best deals while staying within a budget. This aspect may also help students who go slightly out of budget initially but find a better deal at another store. Many parents will be able to relate to needing to go to multiple stores for groceries! In addition to this, students may have to complete conversions for two cookie recipes versus one.

Extension 

As another way to include a challenge or allow all students to process unique challenges that may arise at a cookie swap, there are extension questions for students to calculate. This is a great way for students to see how tricky an unexpected guest is when calculating food. This may also show students how important it is to inform parents if they invite a friend over for dinner! 

Whether you are virtual, hybrid, or in-person, this lesson is a great way to build student excitement through a hands-on lesson. In addition to this, it will help students stay focused on one of the tricker months of the school year. Lastly, it is a great way to involve the grown-ups at home or help students be thankful for their grown-ups when it comes to planning and paying for food! You can get this amazing cookie swap lesson here! 

What are your favorite holiday projects?

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Teachers Love

These are great and my student loves them! These Boom Cards are perfect for my students to provide extra assignments to continue reinforcing the skills they are working on in their general ed class (virtually). I wish I had the skills to create them myself!
Stephanie R.

Volume Boom Cards
Stress-Free Teaching
2020-09-22T20:19:10-04:00
These are great and my student loves them! These Boom Cards are perfect for my students to provide extra assignments to continue reinforcing the skills they are working on in their general ed class (virtually). I wish I had the skills to create them myself! Stephanie R. Volume Boom Cards

Teachers Love

I love the way the graphic organizers are scaffolded so that students work on each step of a RACES answer. I'm a tutor who works with students with language LDs and this approach has been fantastic for them. Having the editable graphic organizers makes it easy for me to keep creating new and different pages for students who need to extra practice on a particular part of the RACES answer. Thank you so much!
Kate M.

Stress-Free Teaching
2020-09-22T20:24:32-04:00
I love the way the graphic organizers are scaffolded so that students work on each step of a RACES answer. I'm a tutor who works with students with language LDs and this approach has been fantastic for them. Having the editable graphic organizers makes it easy for me to keep creating new and different pages for students who need to extra practice on a particular part of the RACES answer. Thank you so much! Kate M. RACES Writing Strategy for Written Responses

Teachers Love

These are AMAZING!! Highly engaging for my students, constantly spiraling, and also gives me the information I need to see what we need to work on. Thank you so much!!
Kristi R.

Stress-Free Teaching
2020-09-22T20:25:15-04:00
These are AMAZING!! Highly engaging for my students, constantly spiraling, and also gives me the information I need to see what we need to work on. Thank you so much!! Kristi R. 5th Grade Math Spiral Review

Teachers Love

Amazing resource! Students loved working on this to show their parents during fall conferences. Their faces lit up as they went through the slides and read aloud their goals for the trimester and what they were proud of.
Jessica S.

Student Led Conference Digital Portfolio
Stress-Free Teaching
2020-09-24T19:42:58-04:00
Amazing resource! Students loved working on this to show their parents during fall conferences. Their faces lit up as they went through the slides and read aloud their goals for the trimester and what they were proud of. Jessica S. Student Led Conference Digital Portfolio
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Stress-Free Teaching