Sock It to Me

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.

Sock It to Me

May 14, 2016

Socks aren’t like other pieces of clothing. Usually you don’t lose a whole shirt or pair of pants. But socks go missing all the time – and it’s never both socks from the same pair. It’s always one sock, which keeps you from wearing the matching one. No one knows where the missing socks go: maybe they disappear into the arm of a shirt, or the leg of a pant…some people say they just get sucked up by the clothes dryer, which then blasts them into outer space. We aren’t sure. Then there are other socks that get holes in them. For all these reasons, we have to buy new socks all the time. So our friend Amber J., just asked, how many socks are knitted each year? One sock-related company says 4 billion new socks are sold each year…and as we do the math, we can see why.

Wee ones: If you have 1 sock on each foot, and 1 sock on each hand as a sock puppet, how many socks are you wearing?

Little kids: If you lose 1 sock each day, how many do you lose in 1 week?  Bonus: If you lose 1 on Wednesday, but then manage to keep all your socks on the next 3 days, on what day do you finally lose one again?

Big kids: If you have 20 socks in your drawer, all in perfect pairs, and you lose 5, at least how many full pairs must you still have, and how many at most?  Bonus: There are about 330 million people in the US. About how many pairs would everyone have to buy in a year to add up to 4 billion pairs? (Hint if needed: How many per person to get to about 1 billion?)




Wee ones: 4 socks.

Little kids: 7 socks.  Bonus: On Sunday.

Big kids: You have at least 5 of your 10 starting pairs, if you lost 5 socks from 5 different pairs…but you could have as many as 7 full pairs left, if 4 of the socks happened to match.  Bonus: About 12 pairs per person, which is 1 pair per month. Not too bad!

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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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