Sure, grown-ups tell us not to play with our food, but if you’re making art out of it, is it so bad? Cut a pancake into squares, then eat every other bite to make a checkerboard. If you cut 4 or 5 long grooves out of a carrot, when you slice the carrot you’ll get little flower shapes, like in the picture on the left. The question is, can this make even your least favorite food taste good?
Wee ones: How many petals does each carrot flower have?
Little kids: If you cut a baby carrot into 5 little flowers, and the 4 long, skinny carved-out sticks are “grass,” how many carrot pieces do you have? Bonus: If you have 9 carrot flowers and eat every other one starting with the 1st, how many do you get to eat?
Big kids: If you cut a pancake into 6 rows and 6 columns, how many checkerboard bites do you have? Bonus: If you eat 3 checkerboard squares from each row, how many do you have left?
Wee ones: 5 petals.
Little kids: 9 carrot pieces. Bonus: 5 carrot flowers.
Big kids: 36 squares. Bonus: 18 squares, since you eat half of the total (3 out of every 6).
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.