Thanksgiving Math - Three Top 3 Lists! November 16 2009

The holidays during this time of year provide more opportunities for kids to have fun with math. I always found that my kids were more amenable to themed math projects because often they are more real-to-life, they're more fun, and many activities are focused not on new skills, but on reviewing skills.

I came up with three of my top 3 ways to use Thanksgiving-themed math, and since they all relate I put them together in one post - kind of a one-stop Thanksgiving math resource! 

Top 3 Ways to Use Thanksgiving Themed Math Resources

  1. Partners - Word problems especially can be more fun with a partner, and usually during this time of year I have students solve problems on 11x17 paper as a math poster. Then they can share what they've done and the posters can be displayed around the room. I also like to have a lot of different kinds of word problems to choose from in order to meet the variety of levels and needs.
  2. Small Groups - These usually involve more complicated word problems, solved in groups of 3 or 4 on a larger sheet of butcher paper. Each student must use a specific color of marker (only one color per person), and each color must appear in equal amounts on the poster. Nobody is allowed to use another person's marker. Then I ask that the problem is solved in two different ways, and all work must be shown on the poster. These take awhile, but the resulting creativity and team-building is worth it!
  3. Independent Practice - I also like for these to be solved in two different ways, but if that's too daunting a task, I then ask students to solve it in a similar way a second time to check their work. To assign an independent problem solver, provide space for the problem to be worked out and then use the results for assessment purposes.

 Top 3 Problem Solving Resources

Ed Helper is a wonderful resource for a variety of Thanksgiving activities, including math worksheets, and as far as I can tell the worksheets and word problems are free. This is a great place to get a variety of word problems.

ABC Teach has a pdf file with two problem solvers already written out. Consider modifying it either up or down depending on the age or skill levels of your kids.

Inspired by that problem solver - and taking advantage of the natural math problems that come with Thanksgiving - I made up a few of my own:


An adult usually eats a pound of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, while a kid usually eats half a pound. If you have 12 adults and 8 kids - and you want 2 pounds for leftovers - how many pounds of turkey will you need?


An adult usually eats a pound of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, while a kid usually eats half a pound. If you have 12 adults and 8 kids - and you want 4 pounds for leftovers - how many pounds of turkey will you need? If a turkey costs $.69 a pound, how much  will your turkey cost?


 Walmart is advertising a Thanksgiving dinner that will feed 8 people for $20. Using ads from different newspapers from the last couple of weeks, can you match that price? Consider how many of each food you will need to feed 8 people, including turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, biscuits or rolls, a vegetable and two desserts.

 Top 3 Resources for Printable Math Worksheets

What if you just want your students to work on basic skills or drills? I've listed some of my favorite places for those resources too!

My favorite math printable resource for Thanksgiving is Lesson Planet. There's a variety of skill levels all in the Thanksgiving theme, and teachers have rated the worksheets and activities. You have to sign up for a free account, and then you get a FREE 10-Day trial. It appears that membership is $39.95 a year, which is about $4 a month. From the website:

LP members agree to have their LP membership renewed via recurring billing, in accordance with the type (i.e. annual, monthly, etc.) of membership subscription agreed to upon original subscription sign up or subsequent signup agreement. The on-file credit card that you provided in connection with your initial subscription (or renewal, as the case may be) will be automatically charged upon your renewal date(s) in accordance with the terms of your subscription agreement. The first automatic charge date occurs after the membership free-trial period ends (unless you have cancelled prior to the end of your free trial).

The standard annual LP membership price of $39.95 is renewed annually upon the expiration date of the membership. Your LP membership subscription will automatically renew at the standard membership price on an annual basis unless you cancel your subscription before the renewal term begins. If you received a discounted subscription price upon signup (or a subsequent signup), your annual renewal will renew at the standard annual LP membership price. If you have an annual LP membership, 30 days prior to your renewal date, LP will send out an advance email notice regarding the upcoming automatic renewal of your annual membership subscription.

You may cancel the renewal of your subscription by accessing the “My Account” area of the site and select the appropriate cancellation options.

My second favorite resource for FREE Thanksgiving math worksheets is Kid Zone. There are materials available for grades 1 through 5, along with Word Problems.

If you'd like another FREE resource for math worksheets, check out There isn't as much of a variety, but they are free and these worksheets would provide some reinforcement or review of math skills.

And if you'd like additional math problems for this time of year - these are about leaves, and there are three levels of difficulty - check out this post!