Food on the Wall

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.

Food on the Wall

December 2, 2014

We probably all know we aren’t supposed to stick food to the wall. But that’s exactly what one guy did – to make a giant piece of art about fruit. Well, okay, he didn’t actually stick fruit to the wall, just pictures of it. For a year Roger Rowley laid out beautiful fruit plates and put pictures of them on a long wall. Each plate has different fruits laid out in swirls and star-like patterns. What’s cool is that he put up the pictures in the order he took them, with January on the left – and since different fruits are grown and sold at different times of year, there’s a rainbow effect of color. January has warm yellows and oranges from citrus, summer has dark colors from blueberries and blackberries, and so on. There’s even one photo with a dark blob in it, because his cat loves melon and dove into the photo to nibble on the plate. As we do the math, we’ll see that he and his cat had an awful lot of fruit to eat this year.

Wee ones: What shape is each plate? Which looks more like that shape, a blueberry or a slice of melon?

Little kids: If Roger makes a plate with 2 kinds of melon, 3 kinds of berries, and an orange, how many types of fruit is that?  Bonus: If he uses just 2 different berries of the 3 kinds to make a plate, how many pairs could he make?

Big kids: If Roger loves red, yellow and blue, and of the 20 plates with lemon, 11 have strawberries and 13 have blueberries, what’s the biggest possible number of plates that could have no berries at all?  Bonus: If 1/5 of the 20 plates have all 3 fruits, how many plates have just lemon and blueberries?

The sky’s the limit: There are 8 rows of plates with 25 plates in each. If every plate had 10 ounces of fruit on it, how many pounds of fruit did Roger and his cat have to eat this year? (Reminder: A pound has 16 ounces in it, and you can use a shortcut to work that in…)




Wee ones: A plate is a circle. A blueberry, which is a ball, or “sphere,” looks like a circle from the side (its “cross-section”).

Little kids: 6 types of fruit.  Bonus: 3 pairs: if they’re blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, he could use BR, BS, or RS.

Big kids: 7 plates, since all 13 blueberry plates could take the strawberries.  Bonus: 4 plates have all 3 fruits, so 9 of the 13 blueberry plates have no strawberries.

The sky’s the limit: 125 pounds. He made 200 plates, which have 2,000 ounces of fruit, or 125 pounds of food. The shortcut: 8 x 25 x 10 is the same as 8 x 25 x 2 x 5, which is also 16 x 25 x 5. So you can divide out the 16 before you even multiply the 25 x 5, giving you 125.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

More posts from this author