Normally deer hang out in the woods. But the sika deer isn’t a normal deer, and Nara, Japan, is no ordinary city. Unlike most deer, the sika keeps its spots all its life. Unlike most cities, Nara lets the deer wander all over the streets, sidewalks, and even into stores! Maybe that’s because the sika have such good manners. The people in Nara call them “bowing deer” because they’ll bow their heads to get treats called shika senbei, or “deer cookies.” The deer get to eat cookies, humans get to enjoy their company, and we get these great pictures – that’s a winning situation worth fawning over!
Wee ones: How many deer can you count in the top picture?
Little kids: If you give a sika deer 1 cookie every morning and evening, how many cookies do you give it over 2 whole days? Bonus: A sika deer can be as tall as 43 inches at the shoulder. Is your shoulder that tall?
Big kids: There are 3 million sika deer in Japan, and 127 million people. How many more people are there than sika deer? (Hint: What if you were just comparing 127 people to 3 deer?) Bonus: The sika’s antlers can range from 12 to 30 inches tall. What number is the exact middle, or average, of those 2 heights?
Wee ones: We count 5 deer.
Little kids: 4 cookies: 2 per day. Bonus: Different for everyone! Grab a measuring tape and stretch it to your shoulder height.
Big kids: There are 124 million more people than deer, because 127 – 3 = 124. Bonus: 21 inches. You can solve this at least 2 ways. The first way is to add 30 + 12, then divide that sum, 42, by 2. The second way is to find the difference between the two numbers, then count halfway up. 30-12 = 18 as the space between them, so the halfway mark is 9 more than 12, and 9 less than 30.
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.