Trying to Walk and Chew Gum

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.

Trying to Walk and Chew Gum

March 4, 2016

Some foods are so weird that we have to wonder who first got the idea to try eating them. Somewhere along the line, someone decided to peel the gummy stuff from the inside of a tree and chew on it. Gum is naturally made in trees: it’s the “resin” or sap from inside the trunk. As far back as 9,000 years ago humans were chewing the gum from birch trees. Since then it’s become all the rage, with 374 trillion sticks of gum now made every year. They say you “can’t walk and chew gum at the same time”…but given how much gum gets chewed, hopefully people have figured out how by now.

Wee ones: The record for longest time chewing gum is 8 hours! What numbers would you say to count them off?

Little kids: If you walk 2 steps, then chew twice, then walk 4 steps, then chew 4 times, then take 6 steps…what do you probably do next?  Bonus: If you try 12 times to blow a bubble with your gum and you succeed every time except the last, how many bubbles do you blow?

Big kids: The largest bubble-gum bubble ever blown was 23 inches wide. If your head is 7 inches wide, how much wider than your head was that bubble?  Bonus: They say Americans chew an average of 300 sticks of gum per person in a year. If you chewed at that rate, how many sticks would you chew each month? Is it that crazy a number? (Hint if needed: 12 is 3 x 4, so to divide by 12, you can divide by 3, then by 4…)




Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Little kids: Chew 6 times (2, 4, 6).  Bonus: 11 bubbles.

Big kids: 16 inches.  Bonus: 25 sticks a month…about 1 per day. But some people never chew, so others are chewing a lot!

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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 while still in diapers, 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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