math skills for thanksgiving

Does your jaw drop when you hear the kids complain about math skills they’ll never use once they’re grown up? Join the crowd of teachers and parents who wonder if they will ever be able to convince students and offspring about the value of understanding math.

Subtlety is the key to involving children in math problems and solutions, and there is no better time to start than the weeks before Thanksgiving.   Simple fractions, easy percentages, and decision making accompany subtraction, division, addition and multiplication in fun, intriguing exercises for everyone in the family.

Whether it’s mom or dad making the plans for this family holiday, there’s a lot of thought and computations required to pull off a happy gathering with satisfied appetites. Even small children recognize how much a smile means from a content friend or relative. Make a difference in this year’s gathering by involving your children and enhancing their grasp of mathematics!

Kids will be surprised at how helpful division is when used to be sure everyone gets a helping.

It helps answer the question about how big a turkey to buy. At the same time, it teaches kids the importance of averaging and variables.

Make a four-column list of everyone expected for dinner and put each name in the right group. Use the following headings: Adults, Teenagers, Preteens, and Toddlers.


Talk about how some people will eat less and others will eat more turkey. An average of 1.5 pounds turkey for each person is a realistic estimate. Discuss the benefits of choosing a higher estimate for the total number of people, such as how it allows for variables, such as the weight of bones which won’t be eaten.

How big a turkey is needed? The kids can multiply 1.5 times the number (practicing decimal fractions and multiplication) or add 1.5 for every name. Show how it’s easier to add 1.5 twice to get 3 pounds for every two guests, and then count by 3s to get a total. Older kids will enjoy sharpening their money skills by computing the total cost of the turkey by multiplying the price per pound by the number of pounds needed.

The holiday is also good for working with time. If the pies need to bake for an hour and 15 minutes, how many minutes total are needed once the oven heats to the correct temperature? What time should the pies be put into the oven so they are ready to eat when it’s time to serve dessert?

Younger children get counting experience with knives, forks, and spoons for the table. Build conceptual skills during family events to strengthen the understanding of why math makes planning easier.

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