It’s April Fools’ Day, the day when everyone’s out to play jokes on each other. It could be anything from covering a car in sticky notes, to covering a donut in baby powder to look like sugar. The funny thing is, people in other countries do April Fools’ Day, too, but they play different tricks. In France, Italy and Belgium, people try to tape paper fish on other people’s backs without being caught. In Belgium, kids also try to lock their parents out of the house. In the US, people play jokes not only by gluing doors shut or dyeing the milk pink, but also by just making up stories to see who will believe them. Now, who knows if any of this stuff is true… but we can still play with the numbers, because numbers don’t lie!
Wee ones: If you hide a plastic frog, lizard, spider, and snake in your friend’s backpack, how many yucky fake animals do you hide?
Little kids: If you tape 5 fish to your friend’s back, then 2 fall off, then you tape 4 more, then 1 more falls off, how many fish are still taped up? Bonus: If you stuck 200 blue sticky notes, 200 green, 200 pink and 200 yellow to that car, how many sticky notes did you use?
Big kids: If you set your sister’s clock 20 minutes ahead so she thinks she’s really late, and it should say 7:15 am, what time does it say now? Bonus: If you have 3 cereals and want all 3 of them in the wrong box, how many possible ways can you re-box them?
Wee ones: 4 animals.
Little kids: 6 fish. Bonus: 800 sticky notes.
Big kids: 7:35 am. Bonus: Only 2 possible ways: in boxes 1, 2, and 3 you can have cereals 231 or 312.
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.