Education Technology

TI’s Gift to You! 12 Days of Holiday Math Challenges

Posted 12/02/2022 by Ellen Fishpaw

As if it hasn’t been hard enough to keep kids focused this year with the many distractions brought on by 2022, now we can add the holidays to the list. And, let’s face it, it’s going to take more than an extra shot in your gingerbread latte to keep kids motivated this month, as enthusiasm for the holidays grows with every passing day.

So go ahead and use that excitement to your advantage by incorporating some of our favorite holiday-themed activities and challenges into your December lesson plans.

We reached into our Santa sack to bring you 12 days of holiday-themed math and coding challenges. Consider it TI’s gift to you! 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.

We hope these holiday-themed activities help you inject a little merry mathematics into your lesson plans from now until the break. Happy holidays!

About the author: Ellen Fishpaw is the Media Relations and Communications Manager for Texas Instruments Education Technology. Before joining TI five years ago, Ellen was a broadcast journalist for 13 years, working at television stations across the country, from North Carolina to New Mexico. She most recently worked for NBC 5 in Dallas as a crime reporter before hanging up the microphone for a TI-84 Plus CE. Follow her on Twitter @ellenfishpaw.