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Deputy First Minister's Christmas Maths Challenge 2019

Want to keep the kids busy this holiday? Why not try the Deputy First Minister’s Maths Challenge for Primary 4 children? It’s packed with festive puzzles!

Want to know the answers? They'll be available on the Making Maths Count blog from 6 January 2020.

Puzzle 1: Classroom Secret Santa Fun

Christmas was getting closer in Miss Eltow’s class…

Comic strip: Miss Eltow's class discuss holding a Secret Sants

Miss Eltow's class want to buy Christmas presents for everyone - but it's too expensive! Miss Eltow suggests they do a Secret Santa. A Secret Santa is where everyone buys one present for the same price and it is put in a sack with a number on it. So everyone gets a present!

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Secret Santa rules

Here are the rules of the Secret Santa...

  • Wrap the present you buy and think about how to describe its shapes.
  • Give each present a number and find out how much it weighs.
  • Recycle old wrapping paper to save money.

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The children bring their wrapped presents into school

Comic strip: the children discuss now to sort their wrapped Secret Santa presents

The class think of ways to sort their presents.

  • They could sort them by weight - lightest to heaviest
  • They could sort them by tag number - smallest to biggest
  • They could sort them in order of how many faces the shape has.

Can you think of other ways to sort the presents?

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Time to play guess the present!

Take it in turns to pick a present from the pictures in Puzzle 2 below and write down the number on the tag - DON'T SHOW IT!

Give 3 clues to the other players to guess the present.

If anyone guesses correctly after one clue they get 9 points, after two clues they get 6 points and after three clues they get 3 points.

For example:

1. This present is made up of two different shapes

2. The tag number is an even number between 60 and 70

3. This present has a pyramid in it.

Have a go now!

(The answer is 68.)

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Puzzle 2: Secret Santa Presents

Sorting the presents

Wrapped Christmas presents in a row

Miss Eltow asks the children to work together to put all of the presents into five sacks.

There does not need to be the same number of presents in each sack but each sack must weigh the same.

Can you help the Primary 4 children to complete the task?

You’ll need a bit of paper and a pen, and a calculator - and an adult might help too! 

There is more than one solution.

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Puzzle 3: Secret Santa Gift Clues

Match the clues to the tags

Work out the answers to the Christmas clues below and match them to the number on the Christmas present tags in Puzzle 2.

Clues to the presents

Click here to open a larger version of the clues in a new window.

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Tips to keep the kids interested in maths

Tip #1: Play board games

Games can involve a lot of maths: this could be counting squares, looking for sequences, moving in different directions, exploring probability by rolling dice or being dealt a card, and following logic and rules.

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Tip #2: Play puzzles and puzzle-like games

Try playing puzzle games like Noughts and Crosses, Guess Who?, Sudoku, Dominoes, Battleships and Draughts.

These all involve strategic thinking, problem solving, and planning, as well as maths skills.

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Tip #3: Include the children in activities that involve maths

Cooking often asks for lots of quantities and measuring as well as shapes, times and temperatures. Shopping involves prices, counting money and checking dates (the expiry date). Get the children to help you! You can find more cooking tips here

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Tip #4: Estimate all sorts of things together

There are lots of things you can ask the kids to guess at. “I wonder how many steps there are here?” "How long will it take to walk to the shop?" "How many peas are on your plate?"

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Tip #5: Plan a journey together

Look at maps and timetables, and talk about distances. How far away is it? How long will it take to get there?

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Tip #6: Talk about maths in a positive way

If you talk about maths in a positive way, your child will too!

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Download the maths challenge

You can download a PDF of the maths challenge here.

You can download the maths challenge in Gaelic here: Làithean-Saora na Nollaig 2019.

Last updated: 3 Dec, 2019