Winter 2006: Math Activities

Winter Topics

Featured Activity: Elf Glyph

Glyphs are a fun way to add data collection activities to the math curriculum. Creative teachers adapt seasonal and holiday craft projects to glyph activities. This elf glyph comes complete with legend and patterns for easy assembly by students.

  • Modifications: There are many elements of the design (belt, buckle, face) that were not included in the glyph legend. Please feel free to add these or to modify or omit any of the suggested glyph legend items to personalize the experience for your students.
  • Although this activity was designed as a holiday glyph, the elf glyph could easily be modified for use with "The Elves and the Shoemaker" story as well simply by changing the colors and legend choices. Look for this version to follow shortly!
  • Test your data analysis skills:
    • Based on the Elf Glyph Legend, what do you know about the person who made this elf?

Mrs. Bestle's class at Port Monmouth Road School in Keansburg, NJ, made elf glyphs to display on the hall bulletin board. They challenged other students to guess who was who.

Penguin Math

Build on students' natural fascination with penguins by including these math pattern activities:

  • Penguin Fishing challenges students to identify the pattern in the number of fish the penguin catches each day, write a rule for the number of fish the penguin catches based on the day, then use that rule and pattern to predict how many fish the penguin will catch on each of the next three days.
  • Capture the Penguins Game uses outcome of two-dice toss to form a coordinate pair.   Student captures a penguin if there is one on that coordinate.
  • Play FunBrain's Penguin Waiter to practice using percents to compute the correct tip for dinner checks.   Four levels of difficulty make it possible to meet the varied needs of learners in a class.
  • See Penguin Links for more information about penguins and their habitats.

Math-Literature Connections: Penguins

Penguin Measurement:

Snowflake Activities

Snowflake Studies describes the materials needed for students to "catch" snowflakes on black construction paper and view them through a magnifying glass to better appreciate the mathematical symmetry.   The link also describes how to preserve snowflakes on glass slides for viewing under the microscope.

Math-Literature Connections: Snowflakes

Snowflake Photography: Learn about Wilson Bentley, a Vermont photographer, famous for his snowflake images.

  • Read the book Snowflake Bentley, a Caldecott Medal Book written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. The author's site includes additional resources and links for the book.
  • Create your own virtual Snowflake.
  • Download Directions and patterns for creating intricate snowflakes.
  • Draw a Snowflake using Word or PowerPoint: directions for creating original hexagonal snowflakes using the draw tools.
  • Print out Snowflake Cards to use for winter number recognition and counting activities or create a winter memory game deck.
  • Place the Snowflake Board Game in the math center to provide young students with practice counting and moving that many spaces as they race toward home to win the game.

Winter Problem Solving

Winter Glyphs

Glyphs are a pictorial form of data collection.   You might be reminded of the term "hieroglyphics" and think about early picture writing.   Different forms of glyphs are used in many medical situations to quickly record data about a patient in pictorial form.   For example, a dentist records cavities on a picture of teeth.   A chiropractor might record injuries or muscle aches on a skeletal picture. In these cases, a "picture is worth a thousand words" and the glyph allows a doctor to more quickly record and analyze the data.

Students in elementary school often create paper art projects for different seasons or holidays. It is easy to transform these traditional projects into mathematical glyphs that allow students to organize and analyze data over several visits.

Additional Seasonal Math Activities

These math activities are organized by seasons.   Elementary teachers often incorporate seasonal activities as craft projects.   Many of these seasonal craft projects can be mathematical as well with a little forethought.   Browse the activities for projects to add that reinforce mathematical concepts and skills through seasonal and holiday themes.