In reeeeeally cold places, people sometimes live in igloos, small homes built of blocks of ice and snow. It’s not very warm inside an igloo, but it’s still warmer than outside! (And an igloo-building secret: The blocks go around in a spiral that layers on top of itself, not in rows that start and end at the same height.) Well, one couple made their own multicolored igloo. They saved up box-shaped milk cartons, filled them with water mixed with food coloring, then froze them into beautiful colored ice blocks. They packed the blocks using snow to hold them, and here’s the result, with a light inside to show off the amazing colors. You can build one too, if you’re willing to drink all that milk!
Wee ones: If the couple used blue, red, green, orange, and yellow blocks, how many colors does the igloo have?
Little kids: If they froze 60 blocks in sets of 10, what numbers would they have said to count them up by 10s? Bonus: If 10 of those blocks were pink, how many blocks were other colors?
Big kids: If it took 5 ½ hours for the water to freeze through and the first carton was filled at 10:30 am, at what time was the first block ready for building? Bonus: If the igloo builders saved 50 cartons of milk, and each carton held 8 cups, how many cups of milk did they drink to make this igloo?
The sky’s the limit: If in the first 3 layers each layer has 4 more blocks than the one above it, and they use 600 blocks total, how many blocks are in the top layer?
Wee ones: 5 colors.
Little kids: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60. Bonus: 50 non-pink blocks.
Big kids: At 4 pm. Bonus: 400 cups.
The sky’s the limit: 196 blocks. If all three layers were equal, they’d each use 200 blocks. If you shift 4 blocks from the top layer to the bottom layer, they will still add up to 600 and each layer will be 4 blocks different in number. The top will now have 196, and the bottom layer will have 204.
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.