Education Technology

12 Days of Holiday Math Challenges

Posted 12/04/2018 by Ellen Fishpaw

Teaching during the holiday season can be a challenge. It takes more than an extra shot in your gingerbread latte to keep your students focused, as enthusiasm for the holidays grows with every passing day. Take advantage of your students’ excitement by incorporating these holiday-themed challenges into your lesson plans.

TI’s gift to you: 12 days of holiday math and coding challenges! Each holiday activity is sure to add some sparkle to your end-of-semester lesson plans.

1) Let It Snow 

Help your students learn to write a program to make snow fall on the TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator. 

2) “Jingle Bells”

 Plug your TI graphing calculator into the TI-Innovator™ Hub and write code to play your favorite holiday tune. Or let your students play “Jingle Bells,” which we have already created for you.


3) Let’s Play Dreidel

Have some fun with Hanukkah by asking your students to write code on their TI graphing calculators that will spin the dreidel. See who comes out the winner.

4) Happy New Year

Hook up to the TI-Innovator™ Hub and challenge your students to play “Auld Lang Syne.” Take it a step further, and add a colorful fireworks display on your TI-84 Plus CE.

5) Happy Holidays

Ask your students to manipulate this equation. The answer is certain to make them smile this holiday season.


6) Tree Twister

We’ve got a holiday challenge for you: If our Christmas tree was 15 rows taller, what numbers would be on the two center pieces?

7) Tacky Sweater

For us, holiday cheer is the sum of two parts: math and the perfect tacky sweater. Can you guess this famous number pattern?

8) “I Have a Little Dreidel”

The dreidel song is a Hanukkah classic. See if your students can write the code to add a little Hanukkah cheer to class, or let them listen to the version we’ve already written.

9) Fa-la-la-la-la Fun

How many golden rings did the betrothed receive in the “12 Days of Christmas?” Here’s a hint: “Five” is not the correct answer. 

10) Pumpkin Pi

What is the circumference of a pumpkin divided by the diameter of a pumpkin? The answer is yummy.

11) Tree Stand Trivia

If the stand is one row below the trunk, what is the sum of the row containing the stand? 

12) My True Love Gave to Me

At the end of the 12th day of Christmas, how many total gifts did the betrothed receive? Think hard; it’s not what it seems.