Who has the longest tongue? It may be Adrianne Lewis, whose tongue sticks out 4 inches past her mouth. She can lick her own nose, chin, eyeball, and even her elbow. Just about no one can do that last one — try licking your own elbow! But some animals do much better. The honey bear’s tongue is 5 inches, when the whole bear is just 20 inches long — it’s 1/4 of its whole height! The real winner may be the anteater, whose tongue can be as long as its whole head and stick out 2 feet! The anteater uses it to eat, you guessed it…ants. We people would probably rather lick our eyeballs.
Wee ones: Try to lick your left elbow. Now try to lick your right elbow! Did you reach either one?
Little kids: If your tongue is 3 inches long and it needs to be 7 inches long to reach your eyeball, how much longer a tongue do you need? Bonus: If your pet anteater’s tongue is 3 times as long as your 3-inch tongue, how long is it?
Big kids: If you lick your eyeball, then your chin, then your nose, then your elbow, then start over with your eyeball to repeat…which part gets the 27th lick? Bonus: If YOUR tongue were 1/4 as long as your whole body, how long would it be in inches? (Hint if needed: To divide by 4, which is 2 x 2, you can cut the number in half, then cut in half again.)
The sky’s the limit: If your pet anteater’s body and its tongue are together 80 inches long, and the body is 3 times as long as the tongue, how long is each one?
Wee ones: See if you can learn your right from left!
Little kids: 4 inches longer. Bonus: 9 inches.
Big kids: Your nose, since it’s before your elbow which lands on all the multiples of 4 (including 28). Bonus: Different for everyone…divide your height (or the closest multiple of 4) by 4.
The sky’s the limit: The tongue is 20 inches, and the body is 60 inches. The body is like 3 tongues, so the body plus the tongue are like *4* tongues all together. These 4 tongue lengths add up to 80 inches. So 1/4 of 80 is 20 inches for 1 tongue.
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.