Of all backyard animals, one of the cutest is the chipmunk. This tiny rodent is a cousin of the squirrel; it doesn’t have that long, bushy tail, but has that fun striped fur instead. The 25 species, or types, of chipmunk are a lot alike: they range only from 7 to 11 inches long, and they all eat nuts, berries, seeds and grains. They stuff food into their baggy cheek pouches to hold until they run back to the safety of their nests (chipmunks are a tasty snack for birds of prey, so they aren’t very brave). What’s amazing is that these little furry guys can dig burrows up to 10 feet long! Squirrels can’t quite do that…between that and the stripes, we’re guessing they’re a little jealous.
Wee ones: Try to find something in your room that has stripes. How many stripes does it have: up to 5, or more than 5? Are the stripes wider or skinnier than your finger?
Little kids: If a chipmunk had 5 stripes, which number stripe would be exactly in the middle? Bonus: If a chipmunk could have 9 stripes — black, then white, then black, then white and so on — how many of the stripes would be black?
Big kids: Baby chipmunks have to find food on their own just 8 weeks after birth. How many days is that? Bonus: If an 8-inch chipmunk digs a 10-foot burrow, how many times its own body length is its new home? (Reminder: A foot has 12 inches.)
Wee ones: Items might include shirts, socks, pillowcases, or curtains.
Little kids: The 3rd stripe. Bonus: 5 black stripes.
Big kids: 56 days. Bonus: A 10-foot burrow is 120 inches long, so it’s 15 times as long as the chipmunk!
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.