A Tree That’s Hard to Top

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.

A Tree That’s Hard to Top

December 16, 2017

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree 2015For over 1,000 years, trees have been used as a decoration for Christmas as well as winter festivals of all kinds. And every winter one of the splashiest, most famous trees of all is the giant spruce at Rockefeller Center. When Bedtime Math fan Anoushka M. visited it last week, she asked us, how tall is that tree? This year the Rock Center tree is 75 feet tall, and last year’s was actually 19 feet taller than that. But there’s a limit on how tall a tree they can use: Norway spruces are about twice as tall as they are wide, and only a tree less than 55 feet wide can fit under the bridges and through the streets…so it can’t be more than 110 feet tall. This year’s tree is much shorter than that, but it still holds 45,000 tiny lights — and a 9 1/2-foot star that weighs 550 pounds! People’s own trees at home, like Anoushka’s here above, may not stand as tall, but they’re just as sparkly and festive.

Wee ones: The star on the big tree has 12 points. Is that more or less than a 5-pointed star?

Little kids: If it takes 5 hours to drive the tree into the city to Rockefeller Center, when does the tree arrive if the trip starts at 1:00 pm?  Bonus: If you stand next to that 9 1/2-foot star, how much taller than you would it be? (You can round your height to the nearest 1/2 foot).

Big kids: Best of all, the wood from the tree will be used to build houses for the poor — and 2017 is the 11th year they’re doing it. In what year was the 1st?  Bonus: If a tree in someone’s house is 6 feet tall, how many of those would you have to stack to stand taller than the 75-foot tree?




Wee ones: More points.

Little kids: At 6 pm.  Bonus: Different for everyone…count the feet between your height and 9 1/2 feet.

Big kids: In 2007. We don’t subtract 11 — that would give you the “zero” year. If it’s the 11th year, the 1st year was 10 years ago.  Bonus: 13 trees!

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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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