It’s that time of year where parents have to think of clever, cheap and age-appropriate costumes for their kids, revise them on the rules of stranger danger and binge on leftover trick-or-treat snacks. Some ambitious folks might carve a face into a pumpkin and others may use the festivities as a good time to teach children about math.
So for those of you in the latter category. Here are some quick tips for incorporating math into Halloween.
Get your children to sort through their loot before they eat it. Ask your children to put all of their different types of candy into piles based on category, e.g. color, shape, type. They can write down the data, or tally and graph it. You can then interrogate them, asking what their chances of picking up a Jelly Belly would be if they were blindfolded. If they get the answer wrong, you can eat their treats.
Put some scary objects such as grape eyeballs into several jars and ask the kids to estimate how many is in each jar. You can do this with fake spiders, or other Halloween-themed memorabilia. Or, at the end of a night of trick-or-treating, you can ask your children to guess how much their bags weigh. But be wary, this one might get competitive.
Handover five candied pumpkins and five Reece’s Pieces to your children and give them a math problem they can work out using the candy. For example, Madison’s mom told her she can eat five sweets, what are all the combinations that she can eat?
Write an equation on a circular sticker, the kind used to write prices on goods in garage sales. Write the answer on another sticker. Place the stickers on the bottom of Hershey’s Kisses. Get your children to answer the equation at the bottom of the chocolate, they can look for the answer once they get the number right. You can decide whether they get to eat their sums as a reward
Battleship Pumpkin Farm
Instead of playing Battleship with your kids, you can get them to search for pumpkins. Each player is handed a grid and some pumpkins, and the goal is to find the pumpkins on your opponent’s farm. This helps with logic and gives the kids a lesson in using coordinates. All the info for the game can be found here.
If you don’t have time to plan any of these activities you can always wait until November 1st and play a little counting game called How Much Candy Can Mommy Eat. Kids can count the candy at the beginning of the day and see how much is left by dinnertime, in our household this will help familiarize them with the concept of zero.
Marina Gomer is a journalist and mother of one. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.