Kid in the Mail

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.

Kid in the Mail

November 3, 2014

For a long time the U.S. Post Office delivered only thin letters. So when they first started delivering packages in 1913, people got excited and started mailing all sorts of surprising things – including babies and kids. The first baby was mailed about 1 mile from his parents’ home to his grandmother’s house for 15 cents. The parents did pay an extra $50 to insure him, which means if they lose the package the Post Office owes you the value of the item (we don’t know what they decided that was). $1 buys much less today than back then, so that 15 cents and $50 was like paying $3.60 postage and $1200 insurance today. The Postmaster General finally said, “No mailing humans!”, but it took 2 years to make this a law, and at least 5 more kids had been mailed by then. No kids were actually sealed up in boxes, of course: they traveled with a postman chosen by the parents. The farthest anyone mailed a kid was 721 miles by mail train from Florida to Virginia: just 15 cents for a 50-pound, 6-year-old girl!

Wee ones: If people mailed the 1st baby plus 5 more kids, how many children were mailed in total?

Little kids: If you got mailed 100 miles from home and then mailed back, how far would you have traveled?  Bonus: If people started mailing kids in 1913 and it became against the law 2 years later, when was it finally illegal?

Big kids: For how long has the post office been shipping packages, as of now in 2014?  Bonus: Back in 1913 it cost a 2-cent stamp to mail 1 ounce. If the baby weighed 10 pounds, what postage should they have charged to ship him? (Reminder: 1 pound has 16 ounces.)




Wee ones: 6 kids in total.

Little kids: 200 miles.  Bonus: In 1915.

Big kids: 101 years.  Bonus: $3.20, since he weighed 160 ounces.

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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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