The Right Day to Wiggle Your Toes

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 Right Day to Wiggle Your Toes

August 6, 2015

If you’ve ever felt like wiggling your toes, today’s your big day. It’s National Wiggle Your Toes Day, when we get to celebrate our pinky toes and all their buddies. Sure, our toes can’t do as much as our fingers, but they help us push off while walking and keep us from falling over. In fact, animals have 3 ways of walking based on how they use their toes. Some, like cats, walk right on their toes (they’re “digitigrade” animals). Others, like horses, cows, and goats, walk on hooves, which are actually the tip of their toe (“unguligrade” animals). And those who walk on the soles of their feet, like us humans, are “plantigrade.” So your toes are important – and in fact, they’ve even set some world records, as we’ll see below.

Wee ones: Can you count your toes? How many do you have? Count as high as you can!

Little kids: If you can wiggle 4 toes on each foot at once while each big toe stays still, how many toes are you wiggling?  Bonus: If of your 5 toes on a foot you can wiggle any 2 toes that are next to each other, how many pairs can you make?

Big kids: The longest time to spin a basketball on a toe was 19 seconds, by Bernie Boehm. If he started 20 seconds into a game, at how many seconds would the ball fall off?  Bonus: The longest toe on any person was Matthew McGrory’s 5-inch long big toe. If your big toe is just 1 1/2 inches long, how much longer was Matthew’s?

The sky’s the limit: If you can wiggle any 3 of your toes on your left foot at once while not moving the other 2, how many different triplets of wiggling toes can you make?




Wee ones: You have 10 toes in total: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Little kids: 8 toes.  Bonus: 4 pairs: the 1st and 2nd toe, then the 2nd and 3rd toe, and so on.

Big kids: At 39 seconds.  Bonus: 3 1/2 inches.

The sky’s the limit: 10 ways, since choosing 3 toes to wiggle is the same as choosing 2 toes toskip. If you letter your toes and count the pairs left out, you get AB, AC, AD, AE (4 choices), then BC, BD, BE (3 more choices), then CD and CE (2), and finally DE. That gives you the triangle number 4+3+2+1=10.

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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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