Dogs come in all kinds of patterns: solid color, multi-colored splotches, or a splash of white on the ears. But one of the cutest patterns might be spots, like on our friend the Dalmatian. These white dogs with black spots make people think of firefighters, but why? Is it because they look cute wearing a red firefighter’s hat? The real reason is that hundreds of years ago firefighters used horse-drawn carriages to pull the equipment to fight fires. They also needed dogs to help guide and calm down the horses. Dalmatians aren’t just for firefighters, though: lots of people have them as pets, thanks to the 101 Dalmatians movies and books. If you’d like a friendly, high-energy dog, a Dalmatian might really light your fire.
Wee ones: Who has more spots, a Dalmatian puppy with 8 spots, or a puppy with 6 spots?
Little kids: If you see 3 Dalmatians, how many more ears than tails does the whole crowd have? Bonus: Dalmatians aren’t born with spots! The spots start showing up around 3 weeks after birth. If your pup is 10 days old, is it getting spots yet?
Big kids: In the movie 101 Dalmatians, there’s a mom Dalmatian, a dad Dalmatian, and the rest are puppies. How many puppies are there? Bonus: If more than half of the pups are girls, what’s the fewest number of girl puppies they could have?
Wee ones: The puppy with 8 spots.
Little kids: 3 more ears than tails. Bonus: No, because that’s just a little more than 1 week.
Big kids: 99 puppies. Bonus: 50 pups. Half of 98 is exactly 49, so if you add 1 more to the total, that pup has to be a girl too so they still outnumber the boys.
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.