# Math through Play: Those Potatoes are Smashing!

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 through Play: Those Potatoes are Smashing!

November 27, 2013

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is that every family has its own traditions and treats. But most tables across the country sport a pile of mashed potatoes. The great thing about creamed spuds is that you and your kid can play around with them before smashing them, because it doesn’t matter if they get bruised –less work to do later!

Besides the standard “hot potato” game, one of our favorites is potato bowling. The bumpy shape of potatoes makes this version of bowling wild and unpredictable. Start this game by selecting your bowling balls, an exercise in size and shape comparisons. See how many potatoes there are in a 5- or 10-pound bag. Weigh them if you have a scale.

You can use almost anything for the bowling pins: toilet paper or paper towel rolls, empty water bottles, paper cups, etc. The length of your bowling alley is also up to you. You can measure out feet, count floor tiles or boards, or even make the lane x times as long as a potato! You can use our handy scorecard (below) and score by the standard bowling rules: add up the number of pins you knock down in each frame; after a spare you also double your next frame, and after a strike you double your next 2 frames. You can also practice mental math with questions like, “There are 3 pins still standing, so how many did you knock down?” or “How many pins do I need to knock down to tie your score?”

When it comes time to turn those bowling balls into a bowl of mashed potatoes, there’s of course a lot of math in measuring out water, milk, and butter for each pound of potatoes – great practice with fractions. You can also explore geometry: see how long a peel you can make in one go, and compare the peel from one turn around the potato (the circumference) with its width. The amount of math and mess you can have is limited only by your imagination!