Math IS Real Life – November 2013 Edition: Trick or Treat!

It’s the first Wednesday of November which means it’s time for our new linky – Math IS Real Life. August and September and October were super successful!  We’ve even created a Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  

If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by


You would think after living in a neighborhood for four years, I would know what to expect for Halloween night…. but you would be wrong.  Four years ago we were not home for Halloween – we were at a Halloween party.  Three years ago it snowed the day before Halloween (YES! in Virginia! It surprised us too!) and maybe 75 kiddos came out.  Last year Hurricane Sandy blew through, and even though we were only partially affected, lack of lights, and the overall wetness lowered the turnout and we had about 75-100 kiddos again.

Knowing that this year the weather would be 60-70 degrees and only a little rainy, I had a feeling we would have more kiddos…. so I stocked up (or at least I thought I stocked up!) on more candy.

My Mother-in-law and I both purchased candy.  We ended up filling a large Thirty-One tote 1/2 of the way full.  (Almost 1000 pieces of candy!) We had 4 bags with 115 pieces, 4 bags with 75 pieces, 3 bags with 60 pieces. (I won’t even get into the amount of calories that were in that bag!)

6:00 pm hit and the trick-or-treaters started showing up!  My MIL handed out the candy, and me being the dork that I am, kept a tally of who showed up…. please pardon the wrinkly page…. it was raining! (translation below!)

First, I must say that it is MUCH harder to keep track of the costume genres than I thought it would be!  We ended up with the following categories, though I will admit that the “traditional” categories seem like a cop out on my part… regardless, I did capture the night using tally marks!

Animals (14)
Traditional Boy (43)
Traditional Girl (56)
Seuss (3)
Superhero / Movie Characters (18)
“Lazy” aka not dressed up Middle/High Schoolers (23)
Babies too young to be trick-or-treating (6)
Tradition Halloween (44)
Sports (23)
Prisoners (3)
Old Lady (1)
Inflated costumes (3)
Cop/Fireman/Doctor (7)

Total:  244

The good news is, we had enough candy… the bad news is, we only had enough because we started getting a bit stingier with it when we realized how many kiddos were coming to our house!  Handfuls quickly turned into two or three pieces.  Now that we have more of an idea of what a “normal” year looks like, we will be able to prepare better next year.  I didn’t have any extra tasty treats to take into my kiddos at school this year!

Keeping track of who comes to your house is a great way to involve younger students in data collection!  You could talk with them about what types of categories you need, how to keep track of the data, and you could even graph it.

Didn’t stay at home? Easy, use the candy they gathered in their Halloween adventure to create a picto-graph – they can make their own on the carpet before putting everything away for the night!  Talk about what you have more of, what you have less of.  AND…. create a barter system!  If one kiddo loves Candy A and the other loves Candy B, set up trades.  You might even say that 2x Candy A = 1x Candy B.

Other ideas you can connect back to your candy:

What is the total number of calories they were treated?
How many categories can they put their candy in?
How many categories can they put the costumes in?
How many hours on a treadmill will they need to spend to work off their loot?
How much money is their candy worth?
If we handed out 1000 pieces of candy, how much candy did the average kiddo receive?
What are some factors to keep in mind next year when I shop for candy for Halloween?


Categories: #mirl, computation and estimation, holiday, math is real life, mathematical reasoning, mental math, and number and number sense.


  1. I LOVE that you kept a record of the costumes! That’s such a fun idea. I’ll have to give that a try sometime!

    And I never thought about how many “lazy” trick or treaters there are. I feel like next year maybe I should make them work for their candy… do some pushups or something if they’re not going to go all out 🙂

    XO, Kelly Anne

  2. It was our first year in our new house so we weren’t sure what to expect…we got 12! We have tons of leftovers. Guess who has no control when there is chocolate in the house? This girl!

  3. We were studying finding percent of numbers right before Halloween so I started presenting problems in terms of candy. For example, if I had 150 pieces of candy to hand out (I live on a quiet block!) and I told the kids to take 4%, how many pieces would they get? My students started joking that they were going to ask people for a percent of their candy when they went trick or treating. The next day, I asked students how many pieces of candy they got and we did problems figuring out what percent of their candy they would eat if they ate a certain number of pieces. They loved the tied in of their candy to math!

  4. Haha, I laughed like a lunatic at the Lazy Middle/High Schoolers and Babies Too Young categories! Those two kill me every year. “I hope your newborn enjoys the chocolate you will eat for them.” Seriously.
    I’m equal parts impressed by your decision to find math in the situation, and surprised I hadn’t thought to do it before now.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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