Peacocks don’t do much all day, but whatever they do, they look great while doing it. This fancy bird is best known for its beautiful, super-colorful tail feathers. The feathers even have funny little dots on them that look like eyes. Sadly, only the boy peacocks have these splashy feathers, so they can show off for the lady peacocks, or “peahens.” Peahens are stuck with boring gray-brown feathers, but this helps them “camouflage,” or blend in with the colors around them as they sit on their eggs. At least no one’s chasing the peahens to pluck their feathers to make dressy hats! Peacocks have about 150 feathers…each year they shed their feathers and grow back even more new ones, so the older the peacock, the more he can show off.
Wee ones: If a peacock’s tail has blue, green, orange, black and white, how many colors is that?
Little kids: If a peacock takes 7 seconds to fan out his feathers, then shows them off for 2 seconds, how long does that all take? Bonus: If you have 10 pea-birds in total and there are 2 more peacocks than peahens, how many of each do you have?
Big kids: If a peacock has 150 feathers and 1 falls out, how many are left? Bonus: If every 3rd feather that’s left has an eye on it, how many eyes can there be at most?
Wee ones: 5 colors.
Little kids: 9 seconds. Bonus: 6 peacocks and 4 peahens.
Big kids: 149 feathers. Bonus: 50 eyes, since you can start counting on the 1st or 2nd feather instead of the 3rd. Put another way, he could have had 50 eyes at most on the 150 feathers, but could have lost one of the feathers with no eyes.
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.