Crayons by the Billions

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.

Crayons by the Billions

November 16, 2017

When you draw with a crayon, did you ever wonder how it was made? If you’re ever in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, or Orlando, you can head to the local Crayola Factory and watch crayon-making in action. The machine in this photo pours sloshy melted red wax into hundreds of skinny round tubes. When the wax cools, it pops out as smooth red sticks. Then the blue wheel rolls glue and paper onto them. The wrapped crayons tumble out the bottom to be shoved into boxes. In the old days people could glue about 10-15 crayons per minute; this machine wraps 200 a minute! That means more coloring fun for all of us.

Wee ones: If today the factory is making lime green, macaroni-n-cheese, wild strawberry, and atomic tangerine crayons, how many colors is it making?

Little kids: If you hope to glue 7 crayons in a minute and you do 1 better than that, how many did you glue?  Bonus: How many more do you need to glue to fill a box of 24 crayons?

Big kids: If the machine makes blue-violet crayons the 1st day, lime green the next day, mac ‘n cheese the next, and then blue-violet again to repeat the pattern, what color does it make on the 20th day?  Bonus: When does it make the 7th batch of blue-violet?

The sky’s the limit: The last time we visited the Easton, PA factory, the counter sign said the factory had made (PARENTS: show or read this aloud as just digits) 146,037,500,000 crayons! Can you say that number in words?




Wee ones: 4 colors.

Little kids: 8 crayons.  Bonus: 16 more.

Big kids: Lime green, since it’s the 2nd crayon in the new set of 3 starting on 19.  Bonus: On the 19th day, since it will have just finished 6 full batches of the 3 colors.

The sky’s the limit: One hundred forty-six billion, thirty-seven million, five hundred thousand crayons!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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