The Perfect Palm

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.

The Perfect Palm

July 5, 2014

Palm trees are those tall, skinny plants with the spiky green pom-pom tops, often swaying in the breeze near some beautiful blue ocean. As cute and perky as these trees look, palm leaves can grow more than 75 feet long and over 10 feet wide! If you tipped that palm frond up on its side, it would be taller than your bedroom, and standing on end it would be 2-3 times as tall as a house. The leaves look small only because they’re that high above your head: Raffia palm trees can grow to over 200 feet tall.

Meanwhile, the Corypha palm can grow millions of tiny flowers on just one tree, and the coconut palm grows coconuts, those round brown fruits that are tough and scratchy on the outside, juicy and sweet inside. You can eat coconut meat, or “copra,” in chunks, or shred it to sprinkle on desserts and mix into candy bars. If you’re willing to climb a 200-foot palm tree to get that coconut, then you’ve definitely earned dessert!

Wee ones: If a palm tree has 8 coconuts and you pick 1 off to make dessert, how many are left?

Little kids: If you’re 4 feet tall and you swing on a leaf that’s 70 feet longer than you, how long is that leaf?  Bonus: If you climb halfway up a 200-foot tree in hopes of finding coconuts, how high have you climbed?

Big kids: If 1 coconut can make enough filling for 15 Mounds candy bars, how many candy bars can you crank out from 3 coconuts?  Bonus: You need to scoop out 6,000 coconuts to make 1 ton of meat. How many coconuts give you 1 pound of meat? (Reminder: 1 ton equals 2,000 pounds.)




Wee ones: 7 coconuts.

Little kids: 74 feet.  Bonus: 100 feet.

Big kids: 45 candy bars.  Bonus: 3 coconuts.

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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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