The Algebra Toolbox

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. – Abraham Maslow

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Christmas Price Index


With three days of school left before break and an impending snow storm on Thursday evening, it’s time to do some holiday activities.

Today, we used PNC Bank’s Christmas Price Index website (interesting FAQs). I gave the students a recording sheet. First, I had the students estimate the cost of each of the gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” while I told my story about how upset I would have been if my “true love” had sent me all those pooping birds, dancing ladies, men in tights, and loud drummers while I was trying to get my house decorated and cookies made for Christmas.  I would have kept all those golden rings and sent him packing.

After they make their estimates, we head to the computer lab and they go to the PNC site. This year it’s really cool. Each gift is “hidden” somewhere in the world and they have to follow clues and do little puzzles to find them before each price is revealed. Great geography tie in. Looks like google earth images may have used in the creation.  I had them record the location and the price of each gift as it is revealed. There is a link at the bottom of the screen where they can click and immediately get the prices of the gifts without the puzzles, but I wanted them to see the sights.  The website also gives the percent increase or decrease in price since last year.  Great activity for working with percents…they can figure out last year’s prices.  We talked about which costs surprised them the most, why some prices went up while others stayed the same, and some of the places they “visited” on the journey.  They got really excited when their estimate was close.  I only wanted to spend one day on this, so that’s all we did. So many options for additional activities though.  CAUTION: I don’t know if it was the site or our computers, but it got really slow sometimes. “Patience” was our word of the day.

Tomorrow, I’m trying the Auction from Math=Love. I’ve never done it before, but will give it a go. I wrote 12 auction questions with 9 correct answers and 3 incorrect. I kept score using an excel spreadsheet which I displayed on the board.