Math That’s a Hit! Make Your Own Piñata

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Math That’s a Hit! Make Your Own Piñata

July 25, 2014
By   |   Math Fun, Parent Blog

Piñatas are always a “hit” with kids at outdoor picnics and parties. It’s one of the few chances kids get to whack at an object repeatedly with a stick — what’s more, instead of a getting a time-out for destroying the object, they get candy!

Store-bought piñatas are gorgeous, but they can easily cost $20 or more, so they’re best saved for special occasions. Making your own piñata is inexpensive, easy, and fun. The challenge is coming up with a piñata that doesn’t disintegrate after a single hit, but doesn’t require a couple of bodybuilders to get the treats out.

Figuring out how to make the perfect piñata is a great way to spend the afternoon with your kids. It’s also the perfect way to introduce your child to the Design-Build-Test concept. Because this requires such inexpensive materials, you can easily make several prototypes and have fun testing each one!

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • cereal boxes and small pieces of cardboard
  • newspaper, Styrofoam peanuts, and tissue paper
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • sturdy string for hanging
  • crayons, markers, stickers, and other materials for decorating
  • 1 cup of candy (individually wrapped)

 

Design

Before actually building the piñata, encourage your child to think about the different shapes he or she can use. Let your child know that incorporating triangles into the piñata structure will help it withstand more hits, because triangles are extremely stable and do not change under pressure. Ask your child to consider 3D shapes containing triangles like these:

  • square-based pyramid
  • triangle-based pyramid
  • diamond
  • triangular prism

 

Encourage your child to explore different materials for constructing the piñata. A piñata constructed solely out of cardboard will be sturdy, but would it be too heavy for the string to hold? Having tissue paper or newspaper “windows” on each face would make the piñata lighter, but would it make the piñata too easy to break open?

Brainstorm with your kids about what kind of candy the piñata will hold: M&M’s or jelly beans? Gummy bears, lollipops, or gum? Get your child thinking about which candies are heavier than others. Do ten mini-packs of M&M’s weigh more than the same number of snack-sized bags of gummy bears? You want lots of candy inside that piñata, but you don’t want your piñata crashing to the ground even before anyone has had a chance to take a whack!

Ask your child to think about the best way to protect the candy inside the piñata from the force of the stick striking the piñata. Should the candy be wrapped in a layer of newspaper or tissue?  Should the piñata be filled with Styrofoam peanuts as well as candy? The newspaper and/or Styrofoam form a safety cell (a reinforced area that protects the objects inside), which is also used in cars to protect passengers during a crash.

 

Build

Use cereal boxes, cardboard, and newspapers to build the piñata, and use tape to hold it together. Make sure the piñata has a hollow opening to place the candies in.  Your child can also decorate the piñata with crayons, markers, and stickers.

 

Test

Hang the piñata from an overhanging tree branch or roof. Have your child hit the piñata with a wooden broomstick or bat (make sure the area is clear of other objects and people!). Record the number of hits it takes to break open the piñata. Was it too easy or too difficult to get the candy out? Did the piñata fall off the string before you could break it open? Did the candy come out broken or intact? Take your observations back to the drawing board and use them to build a better piñata the next time around!

Be sure your piñata candy is fresh and tasty with this Bedtime Math problem.

Image licensed by Ingram Publishing

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Ana

Ana

Ana Picazo first fell in love with math (trigonometry, to be precise) in 10th grade and went on to earn undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees. She met her computer engineering husband at a financial software company and they have passed their love of math on to their three children. Ana blogs at Finding Bonggamom and The Savvy Source for Parents.

More posts from this author