Today is April Fools’ Day, the day we play pranks on people to make them look like fools. But April 1 wasn’t always the date for this crazy holiday. The Romans played pranks on March 25, and in medieval times (about 1000 years ago) it was on December 28, which is still the date that Spain celebrates it (we’re not kidding about any of this, by the way). On April Fools’ you can tell a crazy story that isn’t true or surprise people with practical jokes. Here are some silly tricks and the numbers behind them.
Wee ones: If you stuff your friend’s pair of shoes with paper towel so the shoes won’t fit, and you put 2 squares of paper in each shoe, how many squares do you need?
Little kids: Another trick is to pour a bowl of cereal with milk, then freeze it before serving it. If you freeze bowls for 10 people, what numbers do you say to count them? Bonus: If you serve the cereal at 8 am and it takes 4 hours for the cereal to soften, at what time can everyone finally eat?
Big kids: If you empty someone’s clothes drawer, line it with plastic, and fill it with water, you can put goldfish in there to make an aquarium (we’ve tried this). If you add 18 goldfish, then another 14, how many fish have you added? Bonus: If 1/8 of the fish are colorful tangs, how many tangs are swimming around in there?
Wee ones: 4 squares.
Little kids: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Bonus: 12 noon.
Big kids: 32 fish. Bonus: 4 tangs.
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.