Christmas 2019 Update

Remember we have the wonderful collection of Advent Calendars to use in the run up to Christmas. I was amused at a comment from Plus Magazine regarding the inclusion of cute kittens wherever possible! Behind Door 1 of their 2019 advent calendar you will find the story of a rather important cat: Schrödinger’s cat!

Some further additions to the Christmas 2019 collection

ATM Midwinter MagicFrom the ATM for younger children, Midwinter Mathematics is a downloadable collection of mathematical activities, problem-solving and investigations that are suitable for the winter term for Primary Classrooms. Check ‘Look Inside’ for two free activities, Christmas Stockings where children can think about systematic listing strategies by working out the number of arrangements of Christmas Stockings and Paper Chains, a practical task where children use a piece of A4 paper to make the longest paper chain they can.

On the subject of paper chains, with a twist on the relay idea this TES resource, Chrismas Paper Chains, has students racing to make the longest Christmas paper chain.

Available from STEM Learning, Winter Mathematics from the Shropshire Centre for Mathematics education consists of twenty eight winter-themed activities for younger students (ages 5-11). The collection consists of a variety of investigations, puzzles and games covering many aspects of mathematics.

Also available on STEM Learning, see Christmas Puzzles; The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) published four seasonal puzzles from Amusements in Mathematics by Henry Ernest Dudeney, published in 1917, in their Secondary magazine. I have mentioned Henry Ernest Dudeney’s – Amusements in Mathematics before (see Free Books), the Kindle edition is free. Several categories of puzzles are available. A search on Christmas returned 23 puzzles, solutions are all provided.

Perton Maths Christmas Challenge 1I often mention the Perton Maths Department, check #PertonChristmaths for their seasonal Challenge collection.

MEI Festive Challenges

MEI’s November / December 2017 M4 Magazine has been mentioned in the 2019 collection ( an excellent collection of 10 puzzles and challenges for your students with full teacher notes and solutions). Additionally, we have MEI’s November Primary Newsletter which includes some fun festive puzzles for Primary students.

For your A level students, Tom Bennison has a brilliant resource – Christmas Calculated Colouring.

Sign up to the IMA e16plus Newsletter which is aimed at 16 – 19 year olds who are interested in mathematics and check the latest edition which includes two competitions to enter over the Christmas break as well as various Christmas puzzles and articles.

Christmas 2019



Christmas Tree Trim Transum

Transum Christmas Tree Trim – Level 3

From the brilliant Transum Mathematics try the numerous Christmas activities. Try Christmas Tree Lights for example, or for a great exercise in being systematic try Christmas Tree Trim with 8 levels; students must use the given lights to create different Christmas Trees.

MD Advent Calendar
This Advent Calendar collection has problems for every age from young Primary age children to A Level (UK age 16-18).

The Advent Calendar Collection, of course, includenrich-chocolates the Nrich calendars. For more Christmas Nrich resources try Christmas Chocolates    Christmas Trees      Sums of Powers – A festive Story and Elf Suits – which looks good for thinking about systematic listing strategies!

mistletoe-linesFrom Teachitmaths, create a masterpiece! Mistletoe & lines; the description reads ‘Practise your graph drawing skills with a Christmassy theme! Plot the given points to draw a Christmas tree, then add your own lines of tinsel, giving the equation of each one.’ The pdf resource is free, you just need to register with the site. Further Christmas activities are available.

For more plotting, try this ATM open resource, Santa Plotting. Plot the points given and note the challenge questions at the end.

Excel Christmas tree From earlier years some personal TES Christmas favourites include Christmas Countdown (which although designed for daily use I have also used as an end of term activity) and Santa’s Reindeer (logic and number properties) both of which I have successfully used in class. Try this Twelve days of Christmas algebra activity or try Christmas shading graphical inequalities. This Operation Christmas Tree Excel resource makes a rather nice starter, it is possible to customise the tree.


On TES we have a complete set of relays from Chris Smith; my classes have enjoyed his Valentine and Summer relays, I think we’ll use the Christmas relay to complete this term! You can find more excellent resources from Chris on TES and follow him on Twitter here.

As with all these relays from Chris – all the answers are provided – brilliant!

GCSE Christmas

These GCSE Maths Christmas Puzzles from chuckieirish look good as do the Christmas Puzzles from ryansmailes. Also from ryansnailes, try a Christmas Maths Activities Booklet.

GCSE Maths Christmas Puzzles – TES

Festive Venn Diagrams OUP

Oxford University Press have some great free resources including some Christmas themed problems for your GCSE students.

OUP Resources

Another set of Higher (Geometry) problems is here. I like their festive Venn Diagrams, they would make a nice introduction / reminder on Venn diagrams for younger students.

Oxford University Press Christmas Problems

MEI Festive Challenges

From MEI, the November / December 2017 M4 Magazine includes an excellent collection of 10 puzzles and challenges for your students. Full teacher notes and solutions are included and the problems are ready for you to project for your classes.

MEI’s M4 Magazine archives (GCSE resources are indexed by topic) include many teaching resources, note also MEI’s Newsletters.

Here’s a Christmas tree on the Desmos Graphing Calculator site. Note this is simply a collection of lines and circles, as you can see from the syntax it is very easy to restrict x or y values.
Desmos Christmas tree

christmas-presentHow about a Desmos present to review equations of lines? This Christmas present graph makes a good starter.

I also created a version where the lines are all black which means I can easily change the colour of just one of the items to clearly display each.

For more on getting creative with Desmos, see Graph Art on Mathematics for Students.


@MEIMaths shared The Christmas Tree Bauble Calculator🎄

Dr Matthew Lettington of Cardiff University has helped Admiral create an online tool to calculate how many baubles and fairy lights are needed for the perfect Christmas tree. Answer four questions to find out how many baubles and the length of fairy lights you need!

Mostly for younger children, Top Marks have put their favourite Christmas Activities together.

If you are creating any resources yourself you might want to install some Christmas fonts! (shown here: christmas lights, christmas tree and kingthings christmas)

Christmas fonts

…and a few more Christmas resources:

We could do the annual calculation and work out how many gifts are received over the 12 days of Christmas. Murray Bourne has all the answers and more on squareCircleZ or have a look at this YouTube video.

On the subject of videos, try a video advent calendar from Numberphile!

Using the excellent MacTutor History of Mathematics archive we learn that Christmas Day 1642 was celebrated on Newton’s birthday in England.

GeoGreeting Christmas

click on the image …

Christmas 2019 WolframAlpha count and other information you probably are not too worried about for Christmas Day!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you for reading and for all the various comments. Have a wonderful and well-deserved break when we get to the holidays!

Mathematical Advent Calendars

Almost December…it’s that time of year again…!

TeachIt Maths Advent Calendar Dec 1

TeachIt Maths Interactive Advent Calendar

And so to the annual update on Mathematical Advent Calendars. On Teachit Maths their Interactive advent calendar is a free sample resource available to everybody. (Remember that the free subscription on this excellent site includes hundreds of high-quality pdf resources.) Teachit Maths describe the resource as an advent calendar in the form of a presentation focusing mainly on mathematics. Suitable for KS3/4. (KS3/4 is UK age 11-16). For each day you will reveal a festive fact, joke, teaching idea, activity or game.

From Andy Lutwyche we have his Christmas Advent Calendar which covers lots of different topics in number, algebra, shape & space and data and gets progressively more difficult as you go on.

Andy Lutwyche Advent Calendar

Also from Andy, try his Advent Calendar – Solving Linear Equations. Students answer the questions (the solutions are 1 to 24) and each answer links to a word; when the words are put in numerical order an entire joke is revealed! And another…for older students, Differentiation Advent Calendar where students are asked to find the gradient of a curve at a given point. Cheesy joke included!

Andy Lutwyche Advent Calendars

Advent Calendars from Andy Lutwyche

Tom Bennison IntegrationStaying with a calculus theme, I used Dr Tom Bennison’s Integration a day Advent Calendar last year and will do so again this year – perfect for year 13.



Also on TES you can find an excellent calendar from Mark Dawes.MD Advent Calendar
This is a lovely resource with over 30 problem-solving tasks for use in maths lessons in December. Suitable for starter activities, they span a range of abilities in KS3 and KS4. As well as the calendar the resource includes worksheets for some of the problems and an Excel file showing the difficulty of the tasks.

I do like Mark’s suggestions for use in class, he has given instructions for manipulating the resource so teachers can choose the problem they want for any day!

KS3 Calendar

For a collection of starters aimed at KS3 students try this Christmas Maths Advent Starter Calendar from MrCsMaths. This provides a nice mix of activities.

JCalderwood revision

J Calderwood has provided three Advent Calendars – Advanced Higher, HIgher and N5 Maths for Scottish Students. A great revision resource which could be adapted for different courses.

Transum Advent
From a favourite site, where you can find so many excellent resources, Transum has an Advent Calendar. Behind each door, you will find a Christmaths activity, laugh at a cracker joke and solve a mathematical word puzzle.
(See this post for more on Transum.)

Mathsvent Calendar
Mathsvent Calendar 1 DecTry this Mathsvent Calendar from Phil BruceFor December 1st (Saturday – so I think Friday would be a good day to start on the Advent Calendars!) put the baubles in size order along the tinsel starting with the smallest at the bottom.

Very usefully, you can find all 24 puzzles listed by topic. These puzzles are great, extensions are given for many of the problems too.


Nrich 2019 AdventNrich publishes annual Advent Calendars – one for Primary and one for Secondary. Both feature twenty-four activities, one for each day in the run-up to Christmas. Each secondary activity includes an interactive game or puzzle to explore; similarly all the primary tasks include interactives.

As always from Nrich the calendars are attractively presented and we have the benefit of teachers notes and also solution.
In 2018, secondary students and teachers were encouraged to print off dotty grids and circle templates to help with the advent challenges. The Primary advent calendar focused on activities and games using Dice.

Both Nrich and Plus Magazine have published wonderful collections of Advent resources, clearly, for an Advent Calendar, the year does not matter so we have lots of choices! See for example this whole collection of advent calendars on Nrich, note the different themes available – a Sudoku for each day perhaps? Maybe you want to play a game? The 2016 Primary Calendar featured tasks to encourage mathematical habits of mind something we need to encourage in students of all ages.

From Nrich in 2017 we have a calendar for Primary and one for Secondary each containing twenty-four problem-solving activities, one for each day in the run-up to Christmas. The secondary tasks come from the excellent Short Problems collection.

Nrich Short Problems

Fry & EvansThe Indisputable Santa Mathematical Advent Calendar comes from Dr Hannah Fry and Dr Thomas Oléron Evans who throughout December 2016, to accompany the release of their book on the Mathematics of Christmas, tweeted out Christmathsy bits and pieces, one a day, advent calendar style.

Access Maths Christmas Revision

Alternatively how about a Christmas Revision Calendar from Access Maths? Scroll right down this collection of very helpful GCSE Revision Resources for two Christmas Calendars, one for Foundation and one for Higher, also available are Christmas revision activities.


Linear Programming

A happy discovery recently on Transum, Linear Programming which provides a really easy way for teachers to illustrate several Linear Programming problems. Students could try these as an online activity.

Transum Linear Programming

Transum Mathematics – Linear Programming

I am pleased to see that a reminder of Inequalities is the first activity, something I always start with when teaching Linear Programming. Levels 1 to 5 provide 5 different problems providing very typical linear programming problems and we also have Exam Style Questions. The very generous Free model on Transum allows access to the extensive library of resources including checking answers such as illustrated here;  a subscription additionally provides answers to all of the pupil online exercises such as Exam Questions, quizzes and puzzles as well as additional benefits.

Students are required not just to solve these probems but to interpret solutions to such problems; this post on Mathematics for Students looks at using technology to do just that and includes online utilities and instructions on the use of the Excel Solver. Examination questions are used to illustrate the use of these tools.
Excel Solver

LP Vet Graphical Solution

A version of this post is also available for students on Mathematics for Students. Note the excellent notes and examples on Linear Programming available from CIMT, one of a series of chapters on Discrete Mathematics.


A Level Maths Resources

Following on from last week’s post which included some Advanced Level Mathematcs resources, some more this week with updates to some A Level pages.

Edexcel Teaching & Learning Materials

Edexcel frequently publishes new material, keep an eye on new publications by changing the Sort By filter to ‘Latest’. Published in October 2019 we have a new guide to support for AS and A Level Mathematics. On page 5 there is a really useful list of teacher guides, these are so valuable for teachers and on page 7 another great list – sample, exemplar and past assessment materials; these include model answers – a great teaching resource.

Edexcel Teacher Guides

We now have enhanced content guidance which provides further exemplification of specific areas of the subject content.

A new set of mock papers will be published in January 2020 as well as more practice papers focusing on the new elements of content and new question types introduced in the reformed qualification.

Check all the Teaching and Learning materials where you can filter by content type, also Exam Materials and Specification and Sample Assessments which includes the data set for AS and A Level.

The above information is all included on my updated Edexcel page in the A Level series.  Also updated is the page with sources of worked examples to include weekly A level starters by topic for Year 12 and 13 from Edexcel past papers/specimen papers with mark schemes from @mathstiger70; these resources are included in the Maths Emporium from Edexcel and also available in a Dropbox folderThere are also Excel tracking sheets that print a QLA sheet for the student every 6 weeks.

Two more pages which have been updated are the Calculator pages on Casio’s ClassWiz and graphical calculators, including the CG50.


Edexcel Calculator Guide

From Pearson-Edexcel, one of their excellent guides from the Teaching and Learning Materials collection, we have this guide to using calculators when teaching AS and A level Mathematics. This very clear 5 page document lists specification content for AS and A Level Mathematics and provides video tutorials for a Scientific Calculator (Casio ClassWiz) and a Graphics Calculator (Casio CG50). It includes tutorials on both calculators – ideal for students learning to use these calculators.