It’s finally autumn, and here in Chicago that means there’s a feeling of foreboding in the air about when winter’s going to hit. A small comfort in the changing weather is that it offers some opportunities for winter math activities, specifically those that are relevant to students’ personal experiences.
Perhaps as a part of a morning meeting, your class could have an ongoing discussion about the plummeting temperatures. Keep track of the temperature every day, then work together to create a line graph showing how it changed over a period of time. Finding the week’s average temperature could be a fun activity for older students, as well.
If you’re living in a snowy area like us, keeping track of daily snowfall (using a newspaper’s measures or, more ambitiously, your own) could also be a starting point for some fun winter math learning. You could ask your students to estimate how much snow will fall in a week, or how much snow will have fallen by the end of the season. Or, after a large snowfall, measure the total depth of the snow. Students might have a fun time calculating how much more snow would need to fall to be as tall as a car, a school bus, or a house!
Winter apparel also can bring forth mathematical ideas. Ask your students if they wore mittens or gloves to school and construct a bar graph as a class to see which is more prevalent. Shoe Graph, a lesson for preschool and kindergarten classes and a part of our Focus on the Lesson video series, expands on these ideas. In this lesson, students make graphs depicting the footwear they wore to school. At the end of the lesson, the students discuss how the results might change depending on the season. Many students wore boots in the filmed experiment, but one student notes that later in the year they might need to add a category for sandals.
If another Polar Vortex blows in this year, students might be stuck adding up all the days school is called off, but hopefully we can avoid that and experiment with some of the ideas described above instead. Do you have any favorite winter math activities? Let us know in the comments section below!