Project Based Learning: Plan a Snowman's Vacation

It's that time of year when students are getting antsy and a little *too* comfortable in your classroom. They tend to start slacking a bit here and there, and maybe complain about being bored. Well let's fix that, shall we?! These PBL Math Projects have been a HIT in my classroom, and I've heard wonderful things from other teachers as well!

These projects are jam-packed with Common Core math tasks to help your students review and apply these critical skills  It's not just any old worksheet, the tasks will really challenge and enrich your students as they apply them to real-world situations. Sound great for some of your high-flyers, but not sure if your on-level and struggling students will be able to keep up? Many pages are differentiated so that your students can still be challenged, but at a level appropriate to them!

Alright, here we go...

Engage your students right off the bat by telling them they're a travel agent who gets to plan a vacation for...a SNOWMAN!! They'll already be excited about the idea - maybe even let them chat a bit with their friends about what the vacation will be like. This really helps them buy into the project you're about to present to them.

To start, students will read a survey completed by the snowman to help them know what kind of vacation he's looking for. They'll also get some data on the popularity of different destinations, and use that data to create a bar graph. There are differentiated versions available - challenge your students by letting them create the title and labels. Then, students can look at the data and analyze it to help them make an informed decision about the destination they choose for their snowman.

They'll also set up a budget and plan out his airfare, hotel stays, meals and activities!
Then, students get to plan out their snowman's fun-filled days for him! There are two versions for your different learners. Both have a list of various activities students can choose to sign Sammy up for. They'll use these to create a schedule for him. However, one version has the times in 15 minute increments, and the other has the times in 5 minute increments, with an additional challenge thrown in - some activities are scheduled for certain times, so students must plan around those activities accordingly.
Time for some shopping! The snowman can't go on vacation without his tropical wear, so students will help him shop for his trip. Students are given a budget and guidelines to follow, and there are differentiated shopping menus for you to provide them. One menu deals with two digit numbers, and the more challenging menu deals with four digit numbers.
 Once their snowman has gone on vacation, he ends up helping out some new friends as they buy souvenirs. Students will travel to task cards and count the bills and coins, while recording the totals on their recording sheet. This isn't just any old counting coins activity though - students will be challenged with the problems presented to them on their recording sheet, and will have to use addition, subtraction, and reasoning skills to solve them!
Last but not least, once their snowman returns from vacation, he's ready for his travel agent to help him plan a road trip! Students will use an inch ruler to measure the distance between the cities he's chosen (in inches). Differentiated recording sheets allow students to record measurements in inches, convert the inches to miles, and even calculate the driving time between cities.

Your students will be BEGGING to work on their snowman's vacation during math time!! This can be used in a variety of ways. It's a great project to give to your students who need some enrichment or fast finishers. I've done it in small group with students to allow me to easily differentiate with my different learners. I've even done these projects whole group, where you can really transform your classroom and let students feel completely transported into their project.

Check it out HERE, and if you try it out with your students, I'd LOVE to know how it goes!! :)


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