Teachers know it is absolutely key to incorporate holiday themed learning throughout the month of December. Otherwise, we lose our students to Santa Claus, gifts, ornaments, and frosted cookies! This expanded form Christmas tree is a great way to practice writing numbers in standard form and then converting them to expanded form, without leaving the season far behind.

Materials for the Expanded Form Christmas Tree:

• Construction Paper
• Marker

Expanded Form Math Christmas Activity requires some preparation of paper strips, or you can have the students do their own cutting. The activity is easily differentiated, because you can choose numbers based on individual skill levels. Put on some holiday tunes, grab your scissors and markers, and let’s learn math!

To prepare:

1. Cut green paper strips that measure 1/4 inch by 4 inches.  Students that are ready for the task could cut and measure their own strips.
2. Cut one long strip of brown paper for the tree trunk (approximately 6 inches by 1 inch).
3. Use the red paper to cut many small squares for the packages.
4. Create bows for the packages with other colors.

You can easily involve the students in the project preparations, or simply have it ready to go for them. Following step-by-step directions and cutting are both valuable skills in themselves.

Expanded Notation Form Math Christmas Activity

Breaking down numbers into their expanded form helps children understand the value of each digit. A good understanding of place value helps students solve problems and understand operations better as they learn more advanced math concepts.

Begin this activity by writing one number on each gift. You can give your students a list of numbers, or ask them to create their own 2- or 3-digit numbers.

Next, students should write the numbers in expanded form addition on the green strips.

Finally, start building the Christmas tree!  Use glue to attach the trunk to a piece of paper.  Match each green strip expanded form number to each gift numeral form number.

Start at the top to create the Christmas tree. Alternate gluing the green strip on the tree with gluing the matching gift under the tree.

Show students how to stagger the top of the strip as they build the Christmas Tree.

Have fun exploring and playing with hands-on math with this expanded form math Christmas activity!

How to Extend the Expanded Form Activity

The versatility of this math project means you can really make it work for ALL of your students!

• Ask students to also write the numbers in word form
• Practice reading the expanded form numbers aloud
• Ask students to find the sum of each digit and then compare/contrast with the expanded form version
• Challenge students with 4-digit numbers (5,000 + 800 + 20 + 1)

Find even more engaging activities in the Life Over C’s shop!

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Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion.