Giving Crayons a Second Chance

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.

Giving Crayons a Second Chance

September 15, 2015

Sometimes restaurants that have a “kid menu” also give out crayons. The problem is, when kids leave those crayons behind, the restaurant can’t give them to other kids, because that would pass around germs. Sadly, they have to throw out these crayons that have barely been used. One dad, Bryan Ware, figured out that between 45,000 and 75,000 pounds of new crayons go into landfills every year. So he started the Crayon Initiative: Restaurants and schools ship their leftover crayons to him, and he then melts them down, pours the wax into molds, and lets them cool to make thicker, triangle-shaped crayons. He gives them to kids in need and to children in hospitals. So he’s stopping waste, helping kids, and making crayons that don’t roll away! If your school or favorite restaurant is stuck with lots of crayons, you can tell them to check out the site, and you can help save some crayons, too.

Wee ones: How many sides does a triangle have?

Little kids: If you can fit 7 regular crayons in one hand but just 3 of the fat ones in the other, how many can you hold in total?  Bonus: How many more do you have in one hand than the other?

Big kids: If every 3 regular crayons can be melted to make 2 fat triangle ones, how many new crayons can he make from a dozen regular ones?  Bonus: If 20 restaurants in your town serve each 100 kids a week and give 4 crayons to each kid, how many crayons could they save together each week?

The sky’s the limit: Bryan pours the melted wax into molds that make 96 crayons at a time. If the 96 slots are in neat rows across and down, and there are at least 4 rows in each direction, how many pairs of numbers of rows across and down could there be? (You don’t have to double-count the pairs where the numbers are the same but switched.)




Wee ones: 3 sides.

Little kids: 10 crayons.  Bonus: 4 more regular crayons than fat crayons.

Big kids: 8 fat crayons, since you have 4 sets of 3 regulars that can now make 4 sets of 2 big ones.  Bonus: 8,000 crayons!

The sky’s the limit: There are just 3 possible truly different ways to line up the rows. This is a factoring problem: what numbers equal to or greater than 4 and larger divide evenly into 96?
4 rows of 24 each
6 rows of 16 each
and 8 rows of 12 each

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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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