Even a big box of cereal weighs hardly anything. It can fill a lot of bowls, but it’s so light you can throw it across the kitchen (not that you should). Even lighter are those mini boxes of cereal that hold just 1 serving. So our fan Henry S. asked, how many mini boxes fit inside a big cereal box? This turns out to be a great question, because those mini boxes cost a LOT more money for each bite. A big box holds 12-14 ounces, while the mini boxes hold almost exactly 1 ounce. A big box costs around $3 or $4 — but so does the 8-pack of minis at Walmart. On the other hand, those combo packs give you lots of flavors to try, and that excitement might be worth it.
Wee ones: How many “faces” (flat sides) does a cereal box have? Or count them on a shoebox or other rectangular box!
Little kids: If a combo pack has 2 mini boxes of rice Chex, 2 wheat Chex, and 2 cinnamon Chex, how many boxes does it have in total? Bonus: If you eat a rice Chex on Tuesday, then wheat on Wednesday, then cinnamon the next day, then start over with rice, on what day do you eat the 2nd cinnamon Chex?
Big kids: Kellogg’s 30-pack of minis has 8 different cereals. If the boxes are divided among the flavors as equally as possible, for how many flavors do you get an extra box? Bonus: If that 30-pack costs $21, how many ounces of cereal could you get if you instead bought a bunch of $3 12-ounce boxes?
The sky’s the limit: If you have 10 mini boxes in 2 rows of 5, and that includes 2 boxes of Apple Jacks somewhere, how many different ways can those 2 boxes of Apple Jacks be placed?
Wee ones: 6 faces: front, back, left, right, top, bottom.
Little kids: 6 mini boxes. Bonus: On Sunday.
Big kids: 6, since 3 each of every flavor gives you just 24 boxes. Bonus: 84 ounces, since you’d be able to buy 7 12-ounce boxes.
The sky’s the limit: 45 ways. If the 1st box is in the 1st slot, the other box has 9 different slots where it can go, giving us 9 choices to start. Then if the 1st box is in the 2nd slot, the 2nd box has just 8 places to go; it can’t go in the 1st slot because you’ve already counted that situation. Then with the 1st box in the 3rd slot, the 2nd box has 7 places to go, and so on. You get 9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1, or 45 ways.
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.