You're nearing the mid-year point of the homeschool year. The holidays are upon you, and you're probably losing your homeschoolers' attentions, as the excitement of Christmas gets closer. Wondering what you can do to keep them motivated, especially when it comes to teaching each day's math lessons? Why not take a break from math worksheets and add a special sparkle to your elementary math studies with these fun-filled, Christmas math ideas:

Holiday Baking - What better place to teach your children elementary mathematics than in the kitchen? With over 60 math activities and recipes just for kids, The Math Chef from Alpha Omega Publications has exciting, hands-on math lesson plans like these:

* Teach fractions and ratios, as you double or triple your favorite recipes for Christmas cookies, bars, and breads using only a teaspoon and ¼ measuring cup. Then, divide your delicious goodies into equal parts to share as Christmas presents with family and neighbors.

* Make the most of circles in your kitchen to illustrate diameter, radius, and circumference. Calculate the size of muffin, cake, and pie pans, as well as other round kitchen tools using these formulas: r (radius) = d (diameter) ÷ 2, circumference = π x d, and area = πr2.

* Include a study on Celsius and Fahrenheit as your homeschooler has fun learning Grandma's old-fashioned, time-tested candy recipes. Good candy requires an accurate candy thermometer and careful temperature monitoring of sugar mixtures. Have your child measure both in Celsius and Fahrenheit, as he learns the soft and firm-ball stage of candy making. Older children can practice converting temperature readings with the following formulas: ºF = ºC - 32 x 5/9 and ºC = 9/5 x ºF + 32.

Gift Wrapping - As you and your children wrap presents for homeschooling friends and family, have them measure the perimeter and determine the surface area of square, rectangle, cylinder, or even trapezoid shaped boxes to answer the question, "How much wrapping paper and ribbon will we need to wrap our gifts this year."

Christmas Calendar Countdown - Since your children are already anxiously looking forward to Christmas, have them count down and convert the remaining weeks into days, minutes, or even seconds until the big day!

Geometric Christmas Ornaments - With the creative activities found in 40 Easy-to-Make Math Manipulatives from Alpha Omega Publications, you can have your children deck the halls in style with 3-D holiday ornaments. As they construct and decorate cones, cubes, pyramids, and spheres with glitter and sequins, they'll learn to recognize shapes and their formulas for determining volume.

Holiday Shopping Budgets - Want your children to learn how to manage money? Have them prepare a Christmas budget for items they plan to make or buy for friends and family and plot the information on a spreadsheet with columns and rows. Then, track their actual expenditures during the holidays and compare them to the original amounts.

You can also use Market Math to simulate purchasing food items within a certain budget for the Christmas Day meal. This fun-filled activity reinforces addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills and teaches math involved in determining discounts, estimating, and applying sales tax to your holiday grocery purchases.

Travel to Grandma's House - Make all those time, speed, and distance story problems come to life, as your child computes how far and how long it will take to visit family members over the holidays. Calculate how much gas is required based on your car's mileage and the average cost spent on gas when filling up the tank.

Christmas Card Writing - Are you and your children planning on sending Christmas cards to friends and family this year? Have your children compute the total cost for cards, as well as the postage stamps. Is there a cheaper way to wish everyone a Merry Christmas?

Holiday Board Game Competitions - Turn off the computer and the TV and have some old-fashioned fun playing your favorite board games with visiting relatives and family. Whether it is counting or recognizing patterns, your children will keep math skills fresh as you celebrate the holidays.

Combining your math studies with your Christmas holiday routine is a great way to develop your children's math abilities. Not only will they have a fun time as their skills improve, but they might also unwrap a new love for math, as they go into the new year!