Today is Christmas, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus here on Earth. People celebrate by giving gifts, and by waiting for Santa Claus to show up and fill their stockings with even more presents. But why stockings? As the story goes, long ago St. Nicholas (for whom Santa Claus is named) overheard a father talking about how he and his three daughters did not have enough money. That night, St. Nick snuck to their house and left gold coins in their laundry that was hanging to dry. He didn’t even want to be paid back; he just kindly helped without even leaving a note. Today we hang stockings hoping that Santa will leave treats for us, too — perhaps in the world’s biggest stocking ever! Yarn maker Caron pieced together a 139-foot tall stocking that weighs more than 1,600 pounds. If you want Santa to fill that stocking for you, make sure you’re never naughty and always nice.
Wee ones: How many stockings should your family hang up? Count up your family members – and don’t forget to count yourself!
Little kids: If your stocking can hold 8 little presents and Santa has stuffed 3 in there so far, how many more can he fit? Bonus: If the giant stocking can hold 100 times as many presents as your stocking, how many can it hold?
Big kids: If the giant stocking had exactly 300 patches in the boot part, 200 more in the leg part, and then the back side has the same numbers, how many patches would the whole stocking use? Bonus: 1,100 people knitted these square patches! If you had been one of them, how many people would have knitted along with you?
Wee ones: Count up your family members!
Little kids: 5 more presents. Bonus: 800 presents.
Big kids: 1,000 patches, since there would be 500 per side. Bonus: 1,099 knitters.
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.