Math Tricks with Exponential Halloween Treats

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.

Math Tricks with Exponential Halloween Treats

October 9, 2013

We are big “Halloweenies” and love to go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, but here’s the trick: I’m not a big fan of the treats! After allowing the kids to bargain to keep some of the less offensive sweets, I hide, donate, trade-in, and perform kooky science experiments on the rest of it.

You can also take a bite out of math on Halloween, counting that candy, dividing it into piles and figuring out your average haul per house.

Bigger bats and ghouls can explore exponential growth, too!

Imagine this:

What if your child received one piece of candy at the first house, two pieces of candy at the second, four at the next and at each house after that, the number of pieces of candy doubled?

This is called exponential growth and you can see how quickly your candy count rises! In fact, if your child went to just a dozen houses on your block in this manner, how many candies would she bring home? 2,048 pieces of candy! If she ate all of those, your dentist might witness exponential decay…of your little one’s teeth!

Which reminds me of another common Halloween math exercise in our house: we count the amount of candy the kids get to keep and determine how long that stash will last if each child receives a single piece of candy a day. This also helps the kids figure out if my husband and I are secretly sneaking some of their sweets.

Back to the concept of exponential growth, gather up all your candy and try making a game of this. Find a large, empty bowl and place one piece of candy inside. Now add two pieces, then four pieces, etc. How many turns does it take before you run out of candy?

There is a famous legend about a man who tricked a king out of all of his money using math and the concept of exponential growth. According to the tale, the monarch’s poor math skills cost him his throne and his fortune! Clink the link to watch a brief animated version of the tale.

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About the Author

Candace Lindemann

Candace Lindemann, of Naturally Educational, is a nationally recognized and quoted educational expert and published children's writer who holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education,

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