This is a real world, hands-on, math activity for students to practice addition and subtraction while helping them get into the Christmas spirit. Students are instructed to help Santa shop for a boy or girl for Christmas. When I do this activity with my students, I place different amounts of play money in sealed envelopes. Each student is given an envelope and they must first count it correctly to begin shopping. Students then look through sale papers and magazines creating a shopping list. After writing down each new item, the students must add up their total spent and subtract that from the amount of money they have left. It is really interesting to hear the conversations and the realizations students discover about how much things really cost!
This activity would be appropriate for many different grade levels. It can be used in many different ways (small groups, individual, math centers, etc.).