Bubble wrap is meant for work time, but it’s the best toy. It’s that packing material that comes in clear plastic sheets, with rows and rows of little air-filled bumps. They’re lined up in a hexagon pattern, each bubble surrounded by 6 more, like a bee’s honeycomb. When you pinch a bubble, it makes a perfect popping sound…so you can’t help but pop the bubble next to it, and the next. If you have a really big sheet, you can lay it on the floor and jump on it to pop lots of bubbles at once. Kids love it, grown-ups love it…even guinea pigs want to try it. So it’s no surprise that today is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Find some bubble wrap and get popping!
Wee ones: A bubble-wrap bubble is about the size of your fingertip. See if you can spot 3 things that size in your room.
Little kids: If Snickers the guinea pig (shown here) pops bubbles 1, 2 and 3, what numbers are the next 4 bubbles she pops? Bonus: If a row has 16 bubbles and you pop 1, how many bubbles are left to pop?
Big kids: If a piece of bubble wrap has a row of 5 bubbles, then 6 bubbles, then 5, then 6, and you pop half of them, how many bubbles are left for Snickers to pop? Bonus: If on a 20-row sheet, half the rows have 11 bubbles each and half the rows have 10 each, how many bubbles do you have? See if you can find a shortcut to add it up!
Wee ones: Items might include a marble, a small Lego piece, or a stuffed animal’s cute eye.
Little kids: 4, 5, 6 and 7. Bonus: 15 bubbles.
Big kids: 11 bubbles, no matter which ones you pop. Bonus: 210 bubbles. Each pair of rows adds up to 21, and 20 rows will neatly have 10 of those pairs.
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.