3 Fun Halloween Math Activities from Mathnasium of Cambridge

Oct 30, 2017 | Cambridge

What’s not to love about Halloween? Most of us celebrate the day with candy, dressing up, pumpkin flavored everything, and parties. At Mathnasium of Cambridge we like to throw a dash of math into the celebrations.

Here are 3 fun ideas for kids ages 5- 15 to incorporate math into your festivities. Some activities work in the classroom and/or at home.


1)   Candy Math


After trick-or-treating have your children sort their candy by type. They can sort by flavor, brand, texture, color, or whatever categories they want. After they have sorted the candies, children can use math to describe their piles of goodies.

K-3rd graders: Use exact quantities, such as “I have 25 hard candies and 13 chewy candies. 25-13=12. I have 12 more chewy candies than hard candies.”

4th-7th graders: Explore proportions using their stash of goodies. They may say “I have 32 percent chocolate candy, 46 percent fruit flavored candy, 22 percent that doesn’t fit into either category.”

Students in 8th grade and beyond: Delve into the nutritional elements (or lack thereof) of their candy stockpile. They might say “the calorie count of candy bars with nuts tends to be X times more than candy bars without nuts” They could also describe their candy using probability. “At any given house we have x/X probability of getting a candy we like.”


2)   Pumpkin Measurement Math


K-3rd graders: Measure pumpkins in a variety of fun ways.

Tie a yarn around the fattest part and then use the yarn to measure the circumference of the pumpkin. Now measure the circumference of the pumpkin going across the top. Discuss how different shape pumpkins will have different measurements and ratios.

Figure out the weight of the pumpkin. Have the child get on the scale with the pumpkin and write down the total weight. Then weigh your child without the pumpkin. Subtract the numbers to find the weight of the pumpkin.


4th -7th graders: Figure the volume of the pumpkin. This activity should be done outside or in the bathtub because water will spill. Fill a pitcher with graduated measurement markers with water. Then pour the water into a large bucket. Repeat the process until the bucket is full. Write down exactly how much water went into the bucket. Put the pumpkin in the bucket of water. The pumpkin will displace the water, which will spill out of the bucket. Measure the remaining water in the bucket using the pitcher. Subtract the remaining water amount from the full bucket amount to figure you how much water spilled out. Finally use this website calculator http://www.unit-conversion.info/volume.html to convert the liquid volume to solid volume, measured in cubic inches.

Here is an example. Sara filled a bucket with 4 and ¼ gallons of water. After putting the pumpkin in the water, she only had 1 and ½ gallons of water left in the bucket. 4¼ - 1½ gallons= 4.25-1.5= 2.75 gallons. Sara’s pumpkin displaced 2.75 gallons of water. Using the online calculator she discovers that 2.75 gallons equals 635.25 cubic inches.

Finally empty out the pumpkin of all the pulp and seeds and repeat the experiment with the hollow pumpkin. Compare the volumes of the two measurements.

Students in 8th grade and beyond: Do the same pumpkin measurements as the k-7th graders using multiple pumpkins. Then they can correlate circumference, weight, and volume for the several pumpkins. Investigate whether volume increases in a linear fashion by size and/or weight.


3)   Creepy Creatures


Some kids like to embrace the scary side of Halloween. Have children choose a specific species of their favorite creepy creature like a species of spider, snake, bat, or shark. The goblin shark is always a Halloween favorite. Gather data on that creepy creature and use it for some fun math.


K-3rd graders: How big is the creepy creature? Compare the creature’s size to their own size. Where does the creepy creature live? How many miles would the child have to travel to encounter the creepy creature. Use a map and calculate if the creature’s natural habitat is closer or farther away from the child’s home than Grandma’s house.

4th -7th graders: How much food does the creepy creature eat per day? How does that relate proportionately to their body weight? What is the climate of the creepy creature’s habitat? How much temperature variation is there in the seasons? How does that compare to where you live?

8th grade and beyond: Look at the population data of the species. Is the species increasing or decreasing in numbers? What is the rate of change from the 80s and 90s to the 2000s?

Do you have other fun Halloween math ideas? Please share them with us at Mathnasium of Mathnasium. Remember math is important but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Want to add some fun to your math routine? Give us a call at 519-623-6668.