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Christmas maths problem - how much paper is needed to wrap a present?

Thursday, 4 December 2014
Challenge your class to investigate this real-life problem I was faced with this evening. While wrapping Christmas presents I was determined to use the least amount of paper on each one (which led to some terrible wrapping at times!)

How much paper is needed to wrap a parcel?

Use 36 interlocking cubes to make different cuboids and investigate the amount of paper needed to wrap each one.

  • How many different cuboids can you make?
  • How can you make the investigation a fair test?
  • How can you measure and record the results?
  • Which parcel (cuboid made from interlocking cubes) needs the least amount of paper?
  • Is more or less paper used by laying the parcel sides in line with the wrapping paper or laying the parcel diagonally?

As a development your class could investigate the largest cuboid that can be wrapped up completely in an A4 piece of paper.

Encourage children to see volume as 'layers' of a certain height, which gives a link between area and volume.
Related articles:

Fibonacci's sequence shown in a Christmas cone
Find the rule for Fibonnaci's number and count spirals on pine cones. 

How many ways can a star be drawn?
Using pairs of 2D shapes makes a variety of stars.

12 days of Christmas investigation
How many presents were given in total?

Make a star for Christmas
Fold paper to make a star.

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