Addition, Elementary Math, Holiday Math, Place Value, Subtraction

Holiday Shopping Project

As I have talked with my teacher friends and teachers that I work with, a common consensus is that the weeks between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break are some of the roughest weeks of the school year.

Procedures and routines need reviewed coming back from an extended time off, whether you had the whole week off last week or just Wednesday-Friday off.

Students are excited about the holiday season that is quickly approaching and have a hard time staying focused on their school work or have a hard time being responsible and respectful while at school.

Last year as some of my students were getting squirrely and I needed to find something that  worked on skills they needed more practice on (addition and subtraction with regrouping), but it needed to be an activity that they would enjoy while being fulling engaged. The Holiday Shopping Project was born!

The idea of The Holiday Shopping Project is to get students to think about gift giving and what someone else would like, while also working on adding and subtracting. You can add an economic piece to the project as well, since the students will have a budget, just like many people do when it comes to holiday gift giving.

I love that this “project” isn’t focused on a specific holiday. I have always had students who were English Language Learners who celebrated different holidays in my classroom, so it was important to me that this be holiday neutral and all students felt included. Last year I brought in actual shopping magazines I received in the mail, but that was a bit overwhelming for my students. There were so many options for them to pick from that they took forever to pick just the right gift for their recipients. After that, this year I created 2 levels of shopping cards for you to use with your students if you wish. One set has mostly whole numbers for some of our youngest learners to use for their shopping. The second set has more realistic pricing and works on addition and subtraction with decimals for our 4th-6th graders.

Teachers will determine the students’ budget to spend. There’s a place on the student recording sheets for you to put in their allotted budget. I have found it’s fun to have various budget amounts on slips of paper folded up and put in a jar or bowl, then students come up and pull their budget one at a time. It’s a fun moment in class to watch the student reactions. That also mimics real world scenarios where different people have different resources and amounts of money they wish to spend on gift giving.

I have the project set up for each student buy gifts for 9 people Feel free to adjust this to what you feel is appropriate for your students. Some of my students chose to buy for people they actually knew and some chose to buy for people they made up. With each student having a different family dynamic, I let this part be very flexible. I loved watching my students last year get excited to pretending to buy their mom or sibling something. Their hearts were definitely in the right place.

I have the Holiday Buying Project pages set up so that if you copy them front to back, take one set and have them stacked up, you should be able to fold them in half like a book and staple them together in the bind.

Please let me know what you think and if you decide to try this out with your class. I would love to hear how it goes!


Holiday Buying Project – Black and White Copy

Holiday Buying Project – Color Copy

Shopping Cards for Holiday Shopping- Decimal Pricing

Shopping Cards for Holiday Shopping- Whole Numbers

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