12 Days of Christmas — investigational Maths

Dec 15, 2009

Category: Teaching    Tags: ,


So you want to do some Christmas-related activities, but you want them to stimulate a bit of brain action too… Looking at the carol ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ is an excellent way to get your class investigating number this Christmas. There are loads of resources out there on this, but we’ve added our own take on it in case you haven’t come across it before.

Firstly, to help you remind your class of the lyrics, we’ve designed a presentation which you can download (and view) which you might find easier. Just go here and scroll down to ’12 Days Of Christmas’. It’s not just the presentation — that is our main ’12 Days’ page and you’ll find a load of other links on that page, so it’s worth a look… You may find the downloadable PowerPoint views differently on your computer as we’ve used unusual fonts just to be awkward.

As well as the presentation, we’ve put together a free resource pack to save you some valuable time at this busy time of year. It includes worksheets and ideas to use ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ investigatively…

One of the activities covered in the free worksheets is to investigate the number of gifts in total that you receive from your true love. This could be done with your lower ability pupils by simply adding the numbers 1 to 12 together (and coming up with 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 = 78 gifts).

For your core group, try the full version (adding the cumulative amount of gifts) using the printable worksheet. The answer comes to 364 gifts (one for every day of the year except Christmas) which makes for quite a satisfying feeling when they arrive at the answer. And how often does Maths make your Year Sixes feel like that?!

To stretch some of your pupils further, get them constructing Pascal’s triangle and looking for ’12 Days of Christmas’ patterns…

Diagrams of how to use Pascal's Triangle with 'The 12 Days of Christmas'

Download our printable completed Pascal’s triangle to help.

We hope the above takes some of the pressure off you in between Christmas concerts and hoovering up glitter from unusual places.


A Christmas creative writing challenge: Dylan Thomas meets multi-sensory writing with this Christmas challenge.

A Christmas offer: Until Christmas, every school (or teacher) who gets our Everything Pack will also receive 100 cards of their choice FREE. So, if you like our quirky Revision Ninja tips cards, VIP Reward cards or Plug-In Growth Mindset cards, ask your boss! The Everything Pack is here.

More Christmas ideas: Here’s a list with some Christmas ideas / food-for-thought — Sparky’s Christmas Links.

Spread the word: Share

So, what do you think?

  1. love the ideas — that’s my Y6 lesson sorted for next week. Thanks.

    2:23 pm on December 7th, 2013
    1. Had heard of the investigation, but was dreading making the resources, so am grateful to have them all ready here! Thank you!

      Lizzie Martin
      7:06 pm on December 15th, 2013
      1. Great activity.
        Thanks for the differentiation and the information about the triangle.

        Louise Benn
        10:57 am on November 29th, 2014
        1. […] 12 Days of Christmas A favourite investigation for Maths teachers. I particularly like the resources available on the Sparky Teaching Website. […]

          Christmaths | ideasfortheclassroom
          6:35 pm on December 1st, 2014
          1. Thank you so much for this! Perfect for my year 4 top set class 🙂

            Zoe D
            7:11 am on December 15th, 2014

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