The State You Can’t Miss

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 State You Can’t Miss

July 28, 2019

If you like to play hide ‘n’ seek, you already know this state’s name. That’s because we count out “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…” to give our friends enough time to hide. It’s a long name, and an even longer river. The Mississippi River makes up the squiggly western border of the state (the left side of it on a map). It’s so long that it takes a drop of water 90 days to flow from one end of the river to the other!

 
Turns out Mississippi also helps us keep our left and right straight. Way back when, a pair of shoes had two shoes that were exactly the same shape – you could just grab 2 shoes and put either one on either foot. But in 1884, Mississippi became the first place to sell boxed pairs of shoes, one shaped for the left foot and one for the right.
 
Wee ones: Can you tell your left from your right? Point to your left foot!
 
Little kids: If you have 3 pairs of shoes on the floor, what numbers do you say to count each shoe? How many shoes are there in total? Bonus: If you can fit 2 shoes in a shoebox, how many boxes do you need to hold 8 shoes?
 
Big kids: How many more consonants than vowels are in the name “Mississippi”? Bonus: It takes 90 days for a drop of water to travel the Mississippi River. If it takes you the same amount of time in a boat, how many times could you make that full trip in 1 year? (Assume you can fly back to the starting point without losing any days!)
 
The sky’s the limit: Blues music is another Mississippi invention! A classic blues song fits a pattern called the “12-bar blues” that plays 3 different chords over 12 bars. If the chords go: A, A, A, A, D, D, A, A, E, D, A, E, and you play 120 total chords, how many more A chords are played than E chords?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: Point to your left foot!
 
Little kids: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, for a total of 6 shoes. Bonus: 4 boxes.
 
Big kids: 3 more consonants than vowels. There are 7 consonants (4 s, 2 p, 1 m) and 4 vowels (i). Bonus: You can make the trip 4 times in a year, which has 365 days. 90 x 4 trips = 360, while 90 x 5 trips = 450 which is longer than a year.
 
The sky’s the limit: 50 more A chords than E chords. Playing 120 total chords takes 10 rounds of the 12-chord pattern. Each round has 7 A chords and 2 E chords, so each round adds 5 more As than Es. Over 10 rounds that becomes 5 x 10 more As.

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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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