Have you ever noticed how most teddy bears are brown? Okay, once in a while we see a blue or purple one, but real bears don’t come in those colors. But there are real bears that are white: polar bears. These fuzzy, furry giants live way up north in the Arctic Circle, and are the largest meat-eating creatures on land. They eat seals, which they can smell from up to a mile away. They’re also the biggest bear: at 1,500 pounds, they’re even bigger than their 1,400-pound cousin, the Kodiak brown bear. Thanks to big padded feet and a 4-inch layer of fat under their thick fur, the polar bear can live on the ice and doggie-paddle in the coldest waters. That white fur helps them blend into the ice and snow, too – but don’t even think about dying it purple.
Wee ones: If you see a white bear, then a brown bear, then white, then brown…what’s the 6th bear?
Little kids: If a mama bear and her cub go hunting, how many furry feet is that? Bonus: If polar bears like the weather best from the start of November through the end of February, during how many months are they happy?
Big kids: Polar bears start getting too hot around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. How much would you have to cool down your house to keep one as a pet? See what temp it is now! Bonus: If a bag has 4 white polar bear stuffed animals and 4 brown teddy bears, and you grab 4 toys without looking, what are all the combinations of brown and white bears you could grab? (Don’t worry about the order — imagine them in a pile in your lap.)
Wee ones: It’s brown, since the 5th is white.
Little kids: 8 furry feet. Bonus: 4 months: November, December, January, February.
Big kids: Different for everyone…subtract 50 from your indoor temperature at home. Bonus: 5 ways: all 4 white, 3 white 1 brown, 2 white 2 brown, 1 white 3 brown, and all 4 brown.
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.