April is Poetry Month, and while poetry is made of words, numbers rule their rhyming. Think about Dr. Seuss books, where two lines in a row rhyme: “Knox in box / Fox in socks.” Since the first 2 lines rhyme, then the 3rd and 4th rhyme, we call that an a-a-b-b pattern. But sometimes not all the lines rhyme: “I do not like them, / Sam-I-am. / I do not like / green eggs and ham.” The 3rd line ends in a different sound from the 1st line, so that pattern is a-b-c-b.
It’s hard work, so we were amazed by New Orleans “sidewalk poet” Antoine: Tell him your favorite thing, and he’ll write a poem about it — then you decide how much to pay him for it. We of course asked for a poem about math, which you can find below!
Wee ones: If you say “big wig pig,” how many rhyming words do you have?
Little kids: Try to think of 4 words that rhyme with your first name. Then say the whole set 5 times fast! Bonus: If Antoine writes a $10 poem for your name, and you have $2, how many more dollars do you need to pay him?
Big kids: If Antoine thinks up 7 3-letter rhyming words, how many letters does he have to type in total? Bonus: Poems called “sonnets” have 14 lines, while “haikus” have just 3. On which day does Antoine type more lines, a 10-sonnet day or a 20-haiku day?
Wee ones: 3 rhyming words.
Little kids: Different for everyone…see if you can rhyme with your name! Bonus: $8 more.
Big kids: 21 letters. Bonus: The sonnet day is more line-heavy: 140 lines v. 60 lines.
And here is Antoine’s poem – thank you Antoine for the inspiration!
it’s a system
it’s a system of an infinite
number of systems
it’s the imagination
turning an equation into
a sculpted crystal
the mind circles
it’s the art
of creating sideways
and getting stuck into
and try again
till it equals
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.