While parents may see at first glance a just a huge pile of non-nutritional sugar and possibly some future dental work a closer glance at your child’s Halloween candy stash can provide you with some unique and fun ways to teach math. Kids are highly motivated to do just about anything when candy is involved. You can harness that motivation by providing some math lessons using their Halloween candy. Best of all they can learn and both of you can have fun at the same time. Here are some ideas for Halloween candy math-
- Use the Halloween candy to set up a candy store-You can set a price list for different types of sweet, and have your child practice sorting, adding, and cashing in. You can give actual money, if your child’s saving up, or tokens good for iPod tunes or TV time. Have your child practice with different amounts of money sometimes being the buyer and sometimes being the seller.
- Use the Halloween candy to make a numbers book-For a fun way to teach math you can use Halloween candy to make a numbers book. For an elementary approach try designing a number page for each number. Then have your child glue or simply place the right number of candies on the page. For an older child you can use the level of math they are doing in school.
- Use candy as manipulatives-Using Halloween candy to teach math does not require anything complicated or really anything else. If your child learns best by a hands on approach (as many kids do) simply pour out the Halloween candy onto the dining room table and get started. Have them sort the candy by shape, size or type. Practice addition and subtraction with one kind of candy and gradually add in more. This is also a great way to teach counting by 5’s and 10’s as the kids can actually see what is going on. The possibilities are nearly endless!
- Use Halloween candy to teach about fractions-Any candy that can be broken into even pieces would be a great tool to teach about fractions. For older children who often think math is boring using a chocolate bar broken into pieces will really get their attention about fractions. The same can be done with multiplication and division. Just be sure that whatever candy you are using can easily be broken or cut apart.
- Use Halloween candy to teach about weights and measurements-Another great at home math lesson only requires a ruler and a food scale (items most people have in their homes). Your child can have a lot of fun weighing and measuring her candy to help learn about these math principles. Once your child has a basic understanding of weights and measurements challenge her with questions like: “How much do all of your chocolate pieces weigh together?” or “How long is all of your licorice wraps when they are laid end to end?” For an even more advanced approach once your child has determined the length of a particular piece of candy have her measure common objects around the house using that piece.
- Use Halloween candy to teach about estimation-This is another easy at home math lesson. Have your child sort their candy by type and then get out several different sized containers. The only requirement is that the container must be able to be seen through. Have them put the different types of candy into each container and then estimate how many pieces are in each glass. One of the additional benefits of this is that the child must actually count the number of pieces of candy when they take it back out of the container.