### Newspaper Flyers for Holiday Math Activities

Have you completed your Christmas Shopping? Do you have a budget? How many people do you need to shop for? And, where will you shop? Have you looked at all of the flyers the newspapers have to offer?

These are all questions you ask yourself when doing your Christmas shopping. There's a fun website your students or children can go to in order to plan their shopping. (or imaginary shopping)

1. Shopping at Troy's Toys - This website has the toys on a shelf and students have to add the total cost of the toys and then discount. In level 2, students actually find the percent of the discount.

2. Most Wanted Toys - This has to be one of my favorite activities. Students are given a budget of \$1000 to purchase gifts for friends and relatives. They can either use the websites provided or use newspaper flyers from popular department stores. Students love this activity. I always give prizes for the winners. (candy cane or chocolate) I've noticed that the link to the spreadsheet is no longer available, so I've provided one for you. Just click HERE.

3. Students can cut out coupons to complete different types of math problems. They can even cut out the ads and write their own word problems. Or, teachers can use the ads for:
- percent of discounts
- comparing prices
- working with decimals
- place value

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### Christmas Traditions - Making Reindeer Food

On Christmas Eve, I invite the little girls next door over to make reindeer food. We prepare a mix for the neighborhood children to through out for Santa's reindeer. This is a simple recipe to make and your students will love feeding Santa's reindeer on Christmas Eve.
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Each year during the holiday season, I make my famous (at least to my family and friends) almond butter toffee . I make so many batches of this recipe for friends, school, parties and my husband's barber. Sam's barber actually hides the toffee from his family so he doesn't have to share it. The recipe can be found in the Austin Junior League's cookbook.

The ingredients are so basic. You just need butter, sugar, cream of tartar, slivered almonds, pecans and milk chocolate morsels. If you would like to add another flavor to the toffee, just add grated orange rind and a teaspoon of Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

1. Melt 2 cups (4 sticks) butter in a saucepan. Then add 2 1/2 cups of sugar.
2. When the mixture bubbles around the edges, add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Begin stirring and add 2 cups slivered almonds. I usually wait a bit so they don't get too brown.
3. Continue stirring until it turns a caramel color. It's important to make sure it's a caramel color, otherwise your toffee may be too chewy. You can now add your grated orange rind and 1 teaspoon Cointreau. This is optional. It adds a bit of orange flavor which I love.

4. Immediately pour the toffee in a large buttered jelly roll pan. You can use two cookie sheets but I make several batches.
6. Pour a bag of milk chocolate morsels on top. Wait until these melt a bit and then spread evenly over the toffee.

7. Chop a cup of pecans. If you have a mini-electric food processor, use it to chop your pecans more finely.
8. Spread them evenly over the melted chocolate morsels. Don't worry if some of the pecans come off.
9. Put your pan in the refrigerator until the toffee hardens. When you remove the pan from the refrigerator, use a sharp knife to crack the toffee in to pieces.

Serve the toffee on your favorite candy tray. I give toffee away to my friends and neighbors, so I purchase cellophane Christmas bags to package them. I promise, your family will love you when you make this recipe for them. Enjoy! Just click HERE to get your toffee recipe.

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### Gumdrop STEM Activities in the Elementary Classroom

I always purchase gumdrops as part of my Christmas decorations. They are so colorful and add a sweet touch to your home. I have a few ideas for using gumdrops in your classroom. They include STEM activities that are so much fun.

You don't need much to do these activities... just gumdrops, toothpicks and an imagination. Students can do this activity and then create their own models.

Give each of your students 25 toothpicks and 11 gumdrops. Just stick the toothpicks in each gumdrop to form the base. I like using different colors so students know how many are in each layer.

Add pressure to the top to see how this triangular structure can handle compression. Try creating a square structure and compare. Which structure is stronger? Students will see that the square structures collapse easily, giving way at their joints. Students can record their results and reflections from this activity. Now, give the students more gumdrops and toothpicks. They can work in groups to see which structure is the strongest.

Try an experiment with gumdrops. Add water to a clear container and vinegar to the other. Record observations.

I've used lifesavers to make stained glass creations but have never used gumdrops. One thing I HIGHLY recommend is to spray a little Pam on the foil and around the sides of the cookie cutter. My creation stuck to to the foil and cookie cutter. It looks like the gumdrops haven't melted. But, if you press on the gumdrops with a wooden spoon, they will blend together. If you turn the design over, you will see more of a stained glass look.

This graphing activity is so much fun. You need larger gumdrops to do this activity. I actually found gumdrop wreaths that will work perfectly. Students can work in pairs by taking turns stacking their gumdrops. Record results and compare with the rest of the class.

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### Reading Christmas Legends: The Baker's Dozen FREEBIE

This holiday, I'm sharing a beautiful legend called The Baker's Dozen A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard and Wendy Edelson. Aaron Shepard is an award winning author who wrote The Sea King's DaughterThe Legend of Lightning Larry and The Adventures of Mouse Deer. His website is known for being a resource for folktales, storytelling and reader's theater. You can visit his website at  www.aaronshep.com. Aaron has even been published in Cricket magazine.
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### Shopping for Thanksgiving - Math Activities For Elementary Classrooms

Some of you may have read my post about involving your child in shopping for groceries. With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought Thanksgiving would be a perfect theme for using newspaper ads to shop for groceries, compare prices and calculate savings. So, save your ads!

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### Honoring Our Veterans With Veterans Day Activities

It's important for our children to understand the significance of Veterans Day and how our ancestors and other Americans sacrificed their lives to protect our country. My father was a veteran of World War II. He was so proud to serve our country in order to maintain our freedom.

In teaching our students about Veterans Day, I have a few activities to help students learn about this special day and our U.S. symbols.

I came across a great video to share with your students about the Vietnam War and a book called The Wall by Eve Bunting. The video goes back and forth between the little boy speaking from the book and video about the war. (I would recommend showing this video to upper elementary students because of some of the sensitive material.)

The Wall by Eve Bunting is about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A young boy and his dad travel to Washington D.C. to look for his grandfather's name among all of the veterans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. This is a sweet book to read to any elementary age child.

By reading H for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet, students learn more about the branches of the armed forces and the meaning of patriotism. The book also tells how much soldiers appreciate letters from home.

Below is an activity about patriotism and words that describe our soldiers.

Veterans Day (Our Nation's Pride) is another book to read on Veterans Day. This book helps explain the creation, history and the meaning of the holiday. It also emphasizes the importances of knowing about the symbols of the U.S.. I love the picture of the older veteran on the cover.

Below is a center activity with QR codes that link to information about important symbols of the U.S..

Encourage your students to interview a veteran they know. The veteran may be a neighbor, family friend or member of their family. This is a great opportunity to get to know more about the person and his/her role in serving our country.

If you would like more activities to do with your students on Veteran's Day, take a look at my Veteran's Day product.

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### QR Codes and Google Maps in Teaching Map Skills

Teaching map skills has changed since we began using Google Maps and other online websites and apps. I can type in a location in Google Maps and it not only shows up on the map, a photograph pops up with facts about the place of interest.

Google Maps Scavenger Hunt With QR Codes
A fun way for your students to learn about maps and famous landmarks (or landmarks in your city) is to create QR codes using Google Maps and QR Code Generator. It's so easy and your students will love this activity. You can present the activity in the form of a scavenger hunt. More advanced or older students can do this by themselves.

1. Go to
2. Enter the destination (ex. Statue of Liberty). Make sure the map is the way you want it to look when someone scans the QR code.

3. Click on "menu" and then select "share or embed."

4. Select "share link an click in the "short URL" box.

5. Now, go to QR Code Generator and paste the url from Google Maps. Click on "Create QR Code" and then "download."

6. Put your QR Code on a task card for your students to scan with mobile devices. You probably want to number the cards so you can keep track of the codes.

That's it! You can use this lesson for all sorts of Google Maps activities. You can even add questions or facts on your on your task cards. You can even tape or glue these on a laminated map.