Michigan is that mitten-shaped state that wraps around 4 of the Great Lakes. Its name comes from the Native American Ojibwe word “mishigamaa” meaning “large lake.” There’s no spot in Michigan where you’re more than 85 miles from a Great Lake. In fact, there’s so much water in Michigan – 11,000 lakes and ponds, and 36,000 miles of streams – that you’re never more than 6 miles from any natural source of water. 4 out of every 10 square miles in the state are covered with water! Imagine if your neighborhood was like that, with 4 ponds for every 6 houses. Easy to keep cool in the summer!
Wee ones: Michigan has lots of water. Plug a sink and fill it with some water. To celebrate the 5 Great Lakes, splash your hands in it 5 times as you count!
Little kids: Michigan touches 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. How many Great Lakes don’t touch Michigan? Bonus: Michigan was the 26th state to join the Union. What number was Florida, which joined next?
Big kids: Lot of boats enjoy all that Michigan water. If there are 800,000 boats and 10 people can ride in each one, can all 10 million Michigan residents ride in the boats at the same time? Bonus: Michigan has the most lighthouses of any state, with 124 lighthouses standing. How many more lighthouses is that than the 65 lighthouses in Maine?
The sky’s the limit: It takes you 10 minutes to jog 1 mile and 15 minutes to swim 1 mile. If you travel 75 minutes either jogging or swimming only whole miles, and you jog more miles than you swam, how many miles must you have jogged, and how many did you swim?
Wee ones: Count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 as you splash!
Little kids: 1 Great Lake. Bonus: The 27th state.
Big kids: Not quite – 10 people in 800,000 boats makes 8,000,000, or 8 million, riders. So 2 million Michiganders will have to wait their turn! Bonus: 59 more lighthouses in Michigan. Michigan has 124 total and 124 – 65 = 59.
The sky’s the limit: You jogged 6 miles and swam 1 mile. You know you must swim an odd number of miles for the total time to have a 5 in the ones place. 5 miles of swimming would take exactly 75 minutes, which leaves no minutes for jogging. 3 miles of swimming would take 45 minutes, which would leave 30 minutes, or 3 miles of jogging – still not enough jogging to jog more miles than you swim. So it must be 1 mile of swimming, or 15 minutes, plus the 60 minutes in 6 miles of jogging.
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.