Have you ever seen one thing suddenly look like something else, like an electrical outlet that looks like a smiley face? Our brains like to see patterns, and seeing a second pattern on an object is called pareidolia. If you’ve ever spotted an animal shape in a cloud or “the Man in the Moon,” those are also examples of pareidolia. Our friend Charlize C. asked, how many people have pareidolia? Well, it seems like just about everyone has seen extra pictures in shapes at some point. But it turns out girls see imagined faces more often than boys, and being tired also makes you more likely to see a face that isn’t there*. But even if you’re sleepy, it’s a nice surprise when a trash can smiles back at you!
Wee ones: Smiley faces have 2 dots for eyes and 1 line for a mouth. Does it have more dots or lines?
Little kids: If you see a cloud that looks like a dog, then a whale, then a cat, and the pattern starts over to look like a dog again…what animal comes next? Bonus: If an orange has 10 dots that look like a smiley face, how many dots do 5 oranges have? Count up by 10s!
Big kids: If a house has 2 square windows for eyes and 4 rectangular windows for its mouth, how many sides do all those windows have? (Assume they don’t touch or share any sides.) Bonus: If all those windows were triangles instead, how many fewer sides would all those windows have?
Wee ones: There are more dots, because 2 is more than 1.
Little kids: A whale. Bonus: 50 dots: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50.
Big kids: 24 sides, because there are 6 windows with 4 sides each. Bonus: 6 fewer sides. You can multiply it out to get 24 – 18 = 6, or you can just drop 1 side from each of 6 windows!