Math Activity Calendar: December

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  • December 1: Eat a Red Apple Day

    This is a good day to make apple sauce! Here's an easy recipe from Mister Roger's Neighborhood.

  • December 2: The 20-Second Count

    Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to help prevent the spread of illnesses. Teach your child some ways to tell how long 20 seconds is. One way is to mentally count hippopotamuses, one-by-one, up to 20 (e.g., "1 hippopotamus," "2 hippopotamus," "3 hippopotamus," and so on).

  • December 3: Counting Paws

    Have fun learning multiplication facts by using animal paws. Ask, "How many paws does a dog have?", "How about 2 dogs?", "How about 3 dogs?," and so on.

  • December 4: Read a New Book Month

    Visit the library, and pick out a book your child has never read. Ask the librarian if he or she can help you find an age-appropriate book with math concepts such as counting, measuring, or sorting.

  • December 5: International Volunteer Day

    In honor of this day and the holiday season, pick a volunteer activity to do with your child like donating toys or food. Ask your child to tell you 5 other ways your family could help.

  • December 6: Pattern Necklaces

    A creative way for kids to explore patterns is by stringing different colored pasta into colorful pasta necklaces. They make great gifts, too! Choose a pasta with holes, such as rigatoni or penne, and then follow these easy instructions.

  • December 7: Granola Gifts

    Looking for more holiday gift ideas? Make your own granola, and spoon it into plastic bags tied with colorful yarn or ribbon. Your child will get practice measuring while making a healthy snack to give as a gift. Here's a simple and nutritious recipe from Mister Rogers' recipe collection.

  • December 8: Measure Up!

    Get a roll of string and cut pieces that are as long as family members, or friends, are tall. Label each string with a person's name. Ask your child to hang them in a doorway from shortest to tallest. Who is the tallest? Who is the shortest?

  • December 9: Simon Says!

    Play a version of Simon Says that will help your child learn about patterns. For example, "Simon says put your hands on your head, shoulders, and waist; head shoulders, and waist; head, shoulders, and waist." Ask her to repeat the pattern, and then try another one.

  • December 10: Guess the Gifts

    Ask your child to bring your three of her toys that are different sizes and shapes. Talk about how they are alike and how they are different. Then wrap them up separately in newspaper or left-over wrapping paper. Ask your child to guess which toy is in each package.

  • December 11: Countdown to Year's End

    There are 20 days left until the end of the year. Ask your child to count backward from 20. Then, starting with 20, see how far he can count by 10s.

  • December 12: Shape Cookies

    Make cookies shaped like triangles, squares, rectangles, circles, pentagons, and hexagons. Talk with your child about what makes each shape unique. Ask her to count the sides and angles of the shapes and tell you how they are alike and different.

  • December 13: What's in My Pocket?

    Here's a game to help kids learn coin values and addition skills. Say, "I have two coins in my pocket worth 15 cents. What could they be?" or "I have three pennies and one dime. How much money do I have?" This is a good game to pass the time while you're waiting in a store's check-out line.

  • December 14: Preparing for Hanukkah

    Hanukkah lasts for eight days. In this Arthur video, Francine's family lights the menorah. How many candles does a menorah hold? Are they all the same size? How many are tall and how many are short?

  • December 15: How Cold?

    Put a plastic outdoor thermometer outside a window or on a table in the backyard. With your child, look at it during the day and at night and compare the temperature readings.

  • December 16: Build a Snowman

    Cut three different sized circles out of white paper. Give the circles to your child and invite her to build a snowmen by stacking the circles one on top of the other, from biggest at the bottom to smallest at the top. Then she can have fun decorating her snowman!

  • December 17: First Flight of the Wright Brothers

    Help your child make a paper airplane, and then see how far it will fly. Ask him to measure the distance by counting the number of steps it takes for him to walk from the start line to where the plane landed. Fly it again and walk off the distance again. Did it fly a longer or shorter distance the second time?

  • December 18: Kitchen Math: Gingerbread

    Read one of the many versions of the classic tale, The Gingerbread Man. Then invite your child to help make gingerbread cookies. Kids get experience with measuring and counting when they help out in the kitchen.

  • December 19: Where's the Gingerbread Man?

    Cut a Gingerbread Man out of brown paper and hide it in your child's room. Draw a simple map of the room, with the major pieces of furniture identified. Put an "X" on the map where the Gingerbread Man is hiding. Show the map to your child and tell her to use it to find the Gingerbread Man.

  • December 20: Flashlight Patterns

    Take a flashlight into a dark room and make light patterns. Start out with a simple up-down pattern. Aim the flashlight at a wall and move it up – down – up – down – up – down, and so on. Other patterns to try: on-off and circle-line. Make a pattern for your child to copy and then ask him to make one for you to copy.

  • December 21: First Day of Winter

    Making snowflakes is a fun way to teach kids about symmetry! Fold a piece of paper in half and then in half again. Cut shapes out of all sides, and then unfold it. Explain to your child that the snowflake is symmetrical because the pattern on one side of the centerfold is identical to the pattern on the other side of the fold.

  • December 22: Tally-ho!

    Planning a road trip over the holidays? Give your child a note pad and a pencil and ask her to keep track of something (e.g., trucks, road signs, farm animals, etc.). Tell her to make a mark on the notepad every time she spots the item. At the end of the trip tell her to add up all her tally marks to find out how many she saw.

  • December 23: More Tallying

    Grab a handful of straws and ask your child to guess how many there are. Show him how to count the straws by arranging them into tallying groups (line up four straws and place a fifth straw across them). Then he can count the straws by fives.

  • December 24: Christmas Eve

    Read the classic story, The Night Before Christmas. As you do, think about the math in it. How many reindeer does Santa name? How many stockings are “hung by the chimney with care?” How many children are “nestled all snug in their beds?” How many reindeer hooves are “prancing and pawing” on the roof ?

  • December 25: Christmas

    Let your child help you get the table ready for dinner. How many chairs will you need? How many plates? Ask your child to count out the forks and spoons.

  • December 26: Before and After

    Today is the day “after” Christmas. Christmas Eve was the day “before” Christmas. Talk with your child about the meaning of the words “before” and “after.” Ask, “What will you do “before” you go to bed tonight? and “What will you do tomorrow “after” you wake up?

  • December 27: Heads or Tails?

    Take turns tossing a coin with your child. Decide how many times you will throw the coin. Then predict if you'll get more heads or tails. Write “Heads” and “Tails” on a sheet of paper. Each time you throw, make a mark under one of these headings. At the end of the game, count up the marks to find out if your prediction was right!

  • December 28: Chocolate Comparison

    Create a graph to compare colors in a package of M&M’s. On a piece of paper, draw a series of vertical columns. At the bottom of each column, write one of the M&M colors. Ask your child to put all the M&Ms into one of the columns according to its color. Then ask, which column is the tallest? Which is the shortest?

  • December 29: Let's Eat Out

    Here is a fun guessing game you can play in a restaurant while waiting for your food to arrive. Select three items from the table (e.g., salt shaker, spoon, sugar packet). Show them to your child. Tell him to close his eyes and then cover one item with a napkin. Ask him, "Which one is missing?"

  • December 30: More Let's Eat Out

    Put your spare change on the table for your child to sort by type or by color. Start a coin pattern for her to complete (e.g., penny — dime — penny — dime — penny — what comes next?), and then ask her to make up her own pattern.

  • December 31: New Year's Eve

    Get a calendar for the new year and look through it with your child. Ask her to name all the months in order, starting with January. Count the months. How many months have 30 days? How many have 31 days? Ask your child to find her birthday. “What day of the week does it fall on?”