If you yell “Fetch!”, your pet dog might run to grab a stick. If you yell “Whoa!” you can slow down your horse. But ducks usually don’t listen to us. That’s why we’re loving this video of a duck-herding farmer. He walks out of the barn, faces a whole group of ducks (called a “brace” when on the ground), and calls out to them in Russian. Suddenly the ducks rush together and follow him into the barn! How did he do that? We have no idea. Ducks weigh about 5-6 pounds, so he’s herding at least a couple hundred pounds of duck — maybe even better than steering a 500-pound horse.
Wee ones: If you’re counting those 8 ducks that run in from the right, what numbers do you say?
Little kids: If there are 100 ducks on the left and those 8 stragglers on the right, how many ducks are there in total? Bonus: How many cute webbed feet do 100 ducks have?
Big kids: If the farmer herds 40 ducks and 1/2 of them quack back at him, how many ducks quack? Bonus: How many ducks do you guess are there, without counting? How would you go about guessing?
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Little kids: 108 ducks. Bonus: 200 feet.
Big kids: 20 ducks. Bonus: Different for everyone…one way is to count out a few, like 10 ducks, and then guess how many clumps of that size fit in the whole group.
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.