Geeking out on the (Math) Holidays

In an effort to keep our post light this week since winter break is right around the corner, I wanted to share clever but relevant (read “standards-based”) ways in which to infuse a holiday theme into your math lessons this week.  If you know me at all, you know that I am NOT one for taking a day off from math instruction regardless of the calendar.  After all, I don’t need a special day to be fun; I’m sure my students would say my math lessons are always fun!

Upon further reflection, I realized that I actually do infuse holiday related themes into my math class, just not the winter holiday ones.

For instance, what math teacher has not celebrated March 14th, Pi Day? In fact, this school year is particularly special because we actually get to celebrate more of Pi’s extrapolation: 3.14.15!  Last Spring, I visited a teacher who celebrated by purchasing several pies for her classes, while another teacher allowed students to decorate his room.  The students wrote as many digits of Pi as they could around the room, then found a Pi rap to share with class. Other teachers I know have a specific outfit or t-shirt they wear in honor of the day. Pi Day is a special day you can count on occurring every year.

But have you ever celebrated Fibonacci Day?   It occurs on November 23 (1,1,2,3,…).  I know this day was a couple weeks ago, but put it on your calendar to celebrate next year.  Watch Vi Hart’s You Tube or Arthur Benjamin’s Ted Talk on the Fibonacci Sequence.  And by all means check out #Fibonacciday on Twitter for more Fibonacci Fun and geekiness!

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There are some special dates we have time to plan a real party for as they don’t come around very often. One is on November 13, 2015,  National Odd Day (11/13/15).  In fact, I believe it is the last one for the rest of this century.  We better make this a big one!

Another elusive math holiday is Square Root Day on 4/4/16.  To celebrate you could purchase the Square Root Puzzle or play the Square Roots Game online.  Don’t forget to bring root vegetables to eat, too.

Thinking far ahead, it’s never too early to plan for Pythagorean Theorem Day on 8/15/17 (the next Pythagorean Triple). Check out The Best Pythagorean Theorem Rap and a demonstration of the Pythagorean Theorem by folding a circle.  Both would really add to the hoopla you are sure to be planning.

I’m sure there are other dates out there that should and could be celebrated (i.e. e Day).  So don’t feel too bad if you’re not taking a day this week to graph a Gingerbread Man or determine how much money was spent in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. However, if you do have time (insert laugh track here), take a look at Pascal’s Triangle 12 Days of Christmas. You know we math geeks all love Pascal’s triangle.  This blog post  inserts the patterns the triangle creates into the 12 Days of Christmas.    My favorite patterns highlighted are the Intertwining Petals and the Powers of Eleven.  Way Cool!

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Last but not least, Beth and I want to wish you and yours a safe and relaxing break and warm holiday wishes for whatever holidays you may celebrate in the next couple of weeks, math related or not.

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