math with halloween candy

9 Ways to Use Halloween Candy, Costumes and Cooking to Teach Math

By Deanna Hurn, Founder and Executive Director of Miracle Math Coaching

Oh, the many sweet ways to teach Math in late October!  I’ve always said that children learn best when they’re engaged and having fun.  How much more fun can you have than playing dress up and scarfing down candy?  Halloween is the perfect holiday for sneaking in lessons of addition, fractions and even percentages.  

  1. Count the candy.  This is a no-brainer.  The whole point of putting on Harry Potters glasses or donning Wonder Woman’s wings is to collect the sweet stuff.   But pointing out that they’re actually using Math will help them better appreciate the skill.
  2. Include shapes and numbers.   Ask your younger kids to form a circle, square or triangle by re-arranging the treats.  What’s the most number of shapes they can make with the candy they have?  Can they arrange their candy to look like the numbers 1, 2 and 3?  Can they shape 10 pieces into the number 10?  12 pieces into a 12?
  3. Throw in some subtraction.  With their permission, grab a handful of the already-counted candy out of their stash.  Can they calculate how many you took, based upon the original and the remaining number?  Can they figure out how many pieces you’d have left if you gave back three pieces?
  4. Play the odds.  Before the big night, have your older children guess what percentage of their candy treasure will fall into various categories – chocolate, hard candy, chewy candy (think gummy bears and licorice) and any other category they suggest.  After their trek around the neighborhood, have them compare their predictions with their actual haul.  What were the percentage differences?
  5. Carve the Jack O’ Lantern.   Help your younger child count the scoops it takes to hollow out a pumpkin.  Though it grosses me out personally, you can have them sift through the “guts” to count the seeds.  And of course, have them draw on and identify the shapes to be carved out (by an adult!) to finish the job.
  6. Bake pumpkin pies:   When you measure ingredients, have your child add or subtract  fractions.  Instead of measuring two-thirds cup of pumpkin, give them a cup and a third of pumpkin and ask how much must be taken away to get two-thirds of a cup.  Or have your child figure out how many tablespoons are in that cup of sugar.  
  7. Allow for changes in servings.  Your recipe is probably for a single pie.  What if you’re expecting company and you need to double the recipe? Or suppose there aren’t a lot of pie-eaters in your family, and you have to bake half a pie? (I know.  Just pretend.)   How do the measurements change? Without coaching from you, see if your child can adjust the recipe accordingly.
  8. Encourage costume creativity.  Just for fun, gather a bunch of wearable, Halloweeny accessories and challenge your child to put together a costume using different numbers of items.  Let them choose from scarves, glasses, ties, hats, old pairs of parent shoes, spoons, etc.  What kind of costume can they pull together with just 3 items?  With 8 items?
  9. Give them a budget.  If you haven’t shopped for a costume yet, don’t leave home without a clipboard, paper and a budget.  Tell your children they have a set number of dollars to spend, and that they can keep the difference between the cost of what they buy and their budget.  For every costume they consider, give them the clipboard and paper and let them figure out how much money they stand to gain.

Hope these ideas for Halloween Math allows the fun of October 31!

Let us know if you’d like more ideas for helping child excel in Math.  And definitely contact us for a  FREE Learning Discovery Evaluation to see where your child stands academically and how we might help:  Click here to sign up now.  Miracle Math Coaching is an award-winning, student-focused service with a track record of boosting academic achievement.

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