When you’re in bed, you probably sleep on a nice bouncy mattress. It’s bouncy because it’s filled with foam and Slinky-like springs. It makes you want to jump up and down on it when your parents aren’t looking. Well, in the old days beds were nothing like that. A bed frame was a wooden rectangle with ropes stretched across both the length and width to hold you up. You then stuffed lots of feathers under the ropes to fill the frame — but only if you were rich and could buy feathers. If you couldn’t buy feathers, you stuffed the bed with hay, which was itchy and scratchy and full of bugs. Since the ropes stretched while you rolled around, every night you had to tighten them. And that’s why we say, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”
Wee ones: When you look down at a bed, what shape is it?
Little kids: If you have 4 ropes stretched across your bed and 2 more running from head to foot, how many ropes do you have to tighten at night? Bonus: How many squares do the ropes make, including with the frame around them?
Big kids: If there are 10 pegs down each long side and 6 across — with the long sides and short sides sharing the peg at the corner — how many pegs are there? Bonus: If you have 7 ropes running across and 3 ropes down, how many spaces have ropes on all 4 sides?
Wee ones: A rectangle.
Little kids: 6 ropes. Bonus: 15 squares. Try drawing it! The 4 ropes divide the bed into 5 sections, and the 2 from head to foot carve those into 3 sections.
Big kids: 28 pegs. Bonus: Just 12 squares. There are 6 short rows with just 2 squares in each.