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Have Some Fun With These Holiday Math Games

Deck the Halls, the Holiday Season is Upon Us!

Colorful lights fill the neighborhood and delicious food fills our plates. Along with these holiday cheers, comes packed bellies and sleepy minds. As students are headed home for break, teachers can prepare simple math activities for them to share with their parents to keep their minds active over winter break. Active math movements are a perfect way to keep children entertained while also promoting healthy bodies and sharp minds. Math incorporated with movement and a sprinkle of holiday games could turn an unproductive break into a productive one!

Keeping Kids Sharp During the Holidays

Research shows that “students who have done something educational during the break are more energized when they come back to school and have an easier time getting back into their school routine” (Parenting Education 2017). Not only does keeping students engaged over the break help teachers pick up lessons right where they left off, but it also helps students who may need a little help get the extra practice they need.

Another great reason for keeping the little ones involved academically over the holiday break is to lessen academic regression. In a study done by Duke University’s professor of psychology, Harris Cooper, he found that “the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant” (Study International Staff 2019). When most kids hear “holiday homework” they cringe with visions of worksheets filling their heads. We are here to give you some ideas that will have your students grinning with glee!

Movement Impacts Learning

Studies show that children who are active and moving while learning have better focus, enjoy quicker brain processing, and can retain information longer (Education Week Teacher 2017). With this being said, teachers and parents should take advantage of the numerous opportunities to keep children moving during the holiday break. (And, it’s good for the whole family, too!)

A bright imagination is all you need for some fun holiday math games. Common research suggests that children learn best when they feel like they are playing a game. In fact, according to Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a famous child development expert, “a great deal of research has concluded that play-based learning is genuinely and positively impactful on student learning and development” (The Science of Play 2018).

holiday layout

Holiday Math & Movement Games

Santa’s Saviors

Students will learn to add by following a set of rules in a magical rescue mission. While Santa was out delivering presents his sled broke down forcing him to go home. The children must rush to the North Pole and safely deliver Santa Claus’s presents back to him. Who will get the presents back safe and sound?! These simple concepts could be turned into fun holiday math games and a magical journey with movement.

Have your student stand in front of the Add/Subtract Mat and roll the dice. Depending on what number they get, that’s how many squares they’ll move forward while counting out loud. But beware! There will be 5 black paper circles cut out and placed randomly around the mat. If the student lands on a square with the black circle on it, they have to go back five steps. The first student to reach 100 arrives to the North Pole!

Factor Holiday Meal

Students will practice skip counting by helping with a holiday meal. Kids love to give their parents a helping hand in the kitchen. Now they can make their own imaginary feast with this math game and our Add/Subtract mat. To make the perfect steamy meal, they must collect all ingredients on the list: 2 pieces of bread, 3 scoops of sweet potatoes, 4 slices of turkey, 5 servings of green beans.

Have students start with the first dish on the list. For example, the first student would step up to the mat and skip count by 2’s to the end of the mat. Then, they will have created the first dish. You can give them a picture of the dish so they can keep track of their feast! The list can be made with any quantities and any foods, depending on what factors you are working on with your class.

Holiday Active Math Movements

(No mats required! Perfect to send home for students to practice with their families!)

Reindeer Fly for 4s

Let’s pretend that we are Santa’s reindeer and skip count by 4s while trying to fly to the next house. Lift your right hoof, whisper “one”. Lift your left hoof, whisper “two”. Run in place to get momentum, whisper “three”. Jump in the air and shout “FOUR”. Continue until you reach 40.

Polar Bear Brunch for 9s

Grab a fish with your left hand, whisper “one”. Grab a fish with your right hand, whisper “two”. Eat a fish with your left hand, whisper “three”. Eat a fish with your right hand, whisper “four”. Play with your cubs – twist to the left, whisper “five”. Play with your cubs – twist to the right, whisper “six”. Take a nap on the left, whisper “seven”. Take a nap on the right, whisper “eight”. Clap “NINE”. Continue to 90!

For the full collection of mats and stickers we offer, click here! To see how using these mats can be fun for the whole community, check out our Family Fun Nights.

Regression and Learning Loss During School

Staying Sharp: Keep Kids Learning During Winter Break (2017). Retrieved from:

The Importance of Play-Based Learning (2018) Retrieved from:

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