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Mathematical Advent Calendars Round-up

Looking for something mathematical to amuse you, give your puzzling brain a workout or otherwise satisfy your mathematical curiosity every day for the next month? Look no further – here’s a round-up of our favourite mathsy advent calendars for 2022.

NRICH Advent Calendars

As has become traditional, NRICH are treating us to two advent calendars of fun activities and puzzles, one for primary students (ages 4-10) and one for secondary students (ages 11-18). Each day they pick a maths problem or puzzle from their huge archive, and there’s a range of types of activities including number, geometry, estimation and problem solving.

Matthew Scroggs’ Advent Calendar

Screenshot of Scroggs' calendar, which has a photo of some Christmas gifts in the background, and the numbers 1-25 in a grid on top.

Another tradition is Scroggs’ now-annual puzzle calendar, with a puzzle each day building up to an overall challenge you can solve by combining all of your previous answers. It has a lovely range of puzzles and would suit a keen secondary student or older. As always, it’s hilariously over-engineered, has a prize for the winner and you can buy a t-shirt of it.

Maths Week Scotland countdown calendar

This year Maths Week Scotland have joined in the fun with a ‘Countdown to the Christmas Holidays‘, running from 1-20 December (not quite an advent calendar, but you’re probably too busy frantically finishing Christmas shopping on 21-24 anyway). The activities will be for a mix of ages and will be most suitable for Early Years to Lower Secondary School, though older children may also enjoy taking part.

Mathigon Puzzle Calendar

Mathigon have continued their annual tradition of a puzzle calendar, with puzzles revealed at 9am GMT every day in December, and solutions available the following day. It’s a good mixture of classic and new puzzles, with Mathigon’s trademark clever interactive gadgets.

Screenshot of four puzzles from 9-12 December, including two number puzzles, a geometry question about angles and a game with jumping frogs.
From 2021’s Mathigon Puzzle Calendar

Transum Advent Calendar

Screenshot of the Transum Advent Calendar, which has the numbers 1-25 and a picture of a Christmas wreath on a red background

Maths resources site Transum is also running a Maths Activities Advent Calendar, which promises a new mathematical activity each day (or if you can’t wait, sign up for a subscription and you can open all the doors early, but this is technically known as ‘cheating’).

Maths Week Ireland Advent STEAM Calendar

Maths Week Ireland have also put together a calendar (and they’re so keen, it’s already started) containing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) activities each day, with a huge range of themes from card-making to coding.

Advent of Code

For serious advent maths/coding fun, Advent of Code presents a new programming challenge each day. You can solve it using whatever language or platform you like (past attempts have included ‘using only spreadsheets’, but this only gets you so far) and it’s a good way to teach yourself a new language! Each day there’s Part 1 (usually implementing a set of instructions) and then Part 2 (which involves adapting your existing code to a much larger or more complex data set, and sometimes just starting again from scratch depending on how you coded the first part!) and the challenges often involve mathematical algorithms, manipulating abstract structures or playing with numbers. It’s good fun but a real challenge! And yes, you can buy a t-shirt of it.

Other mathematical calendars

Math teacher Karen Campe has also shared a blog post of some December calendar problems from back issues of Mathematics Teacher magazine.

Physical Calendars

It might not be too late to grab a real physical calendar with a mathematical, technological or otherwise puzzly twist – there’s always a LEGO calendar, a Raspberry Pi maker project calendar or an electronics calendar. We’ve also had a recommendation for the EXIT: THE GAME range of Advent Calendars (I definitely enjoyed the Ice Cave one last year!), which present a puzzle each day with an Escape Room-style story running through it, and involve some creative thinking and problem-solving. Or if you’re a real engineer, why not a Draper tool set calendar?

And don’t forget you can always check the ultimate binary advent calendar, I look at it every day!

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