Party Time in the Math Room
Inspired by a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry display of “Christmas Trees Around the World”, 1996, these ornaments are direct applications of mathematical concepts. The ornaments function as manipulative teaching devices whether the instructor displays and describes a finished ornament or the student constructs an ornament. A brief history, description, application, or function is provided for most ornaments as well as suggestions for interdisciplinary connections. In the presentation, overhead transparencies of diagrams and sketches complement these written instructions. Source materials referenced in the instructions are listed in the bibliography.
  • Scandinavian Christmas Tree
  • Tri-Plane Diamonds
  • Adjusting Octagon Stars
  • Dutch Translucent Paper Stars
  • Unit Origami Balls
  • Snowflakes
  • Rose Windows
  • Scherenschnitte, Christbaumschnitte, Faltschnittebander, Polish wycinan
  • Weaving Swedish Hearts
  • German Folded Stars
  • Japanese Birds
  • Temari Balls
  • Gyroscopic Ornament (Concentric Circles)
  • Moravian Herrnhut star
  • Mexican Cascarons
  • Chinese New Year Dragons

A String of Numbersexternal image numberstring.jpg
The instructions suggest making a necklace, but I think this would make an interesting garland for a tree. You could use the digits of pi, perfect squares, Fibonacci numbers, multiples of a certain number to make the patterns.
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Paper and pencil
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Elastic beading thread
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Pony beads in several colors

Tessellation Sensationexternal image tessellation_main.jpg
These instructions would have to be tweaked a little to make an ornament, but this shows a neat way to make tessellations. Maybe decorate stockings or fold into a certain 3-D shape?
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Green construction paper
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Ruler, pencil, and scissors
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Cookie cutter (any symmetrical shape that fits in a 3-inch square will do)
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Blue poster board, 12 by 18 inches
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Glue stick

Triangular Constructionexternal image gumdroptet_main.jpg
Create a tetrahedron out of toothpicks and gumdrops. This would be a great ornament!

Christmas Tree Decorating - Math Style
Raymond Park Middle School in Indiana celebrated the season by making polygon graphic organizers shaped like Christmas trees, 3-D shapes, and fractional measurement trees of felt and buttons.

moz-screenshot-3.jpgChristmas ornament paper folding activity ...
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Printable 3-D Shapes

The regular polyhedrons can make interesting ornaments, and are relatively easy to make from card stock or file folders:

tetrahedron - 4 equilateral triangles
cube - 6 squares
octahedron - 8 equilateral triangles
dodecahedron (my favorite) - 12 regular pentagons
Icosahedron - 20 equilateral triangles

Origami Cubes
This activity has students making paper folds to make a cube. During the process of folding, each quadrilateral will be identified and attributes will be listed. The cubes can then be used as Christmas ornaments.

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