Pajamas are so nice and cozy, and yours might be even more fun and exciting than your regular clothes. Well, turns out elephants sometimes need pajamas, too. When the weather turned cold in Mathura, India, the town’s elephant rescue center needed to keep the elephants warm. A group of women got together and knitted huge blankets and “pants” for the giant animals. They had to do math to figure out how much blanket to knit for their 20 elephants. Using the height of the elephant and distance around its big round foot, they could find the area of the animal. But how did they figure out which colors the elephants want to wear?
Wee ones: Elephants are really tall. Point to the tallest thing in your room (not counting the ceiling).
Little kids: If the elephant’s pajamas have 2 buttons on the left side holding them up, and 2 buttons on the right side, how many buttons are there? Bonus: If your pajama top has twice as many buttons, how many buttons do you have?
Big kids: If they knit a blanket whose 5th stripe was red, then the 10th stripe, the 16th, and the 23rd, what number stripe was the next red one? Bonus: If each elephant needs 215 square feet of knitting, how much knitting did all 20 elephants need together? (Hint if needed: How much would just 10 elephants need?)
Wee ones: Answers might include a bedpost, door frame, or window frame.
Little kids: 4 buttons. Bonus: 8 buttons.
Big kids: The 31st stripe, since it jumped 5 stripes, then 6, then 7…it should now jump 8. Bonus: 4,300 square feet, since 10 elephants (half the number) would need 2,150.
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.