These animals munching on carrots look like they’d make cute pets. They’re prairie dogs, who live down in holes in the…you guessed it, the prairie. They dig “burrows,” or tunnels, in the flat grassy fields. These tunnels keep the prairie dogs cool during the hot summer, and comfy through the cold winter. Our furry friends also hide there from animals who might eat them. The tunnels can be more than 30 feet long, and connect to make whole underground “towns.” The biggest known town stretched for 25,000 square miles in Texas, and was home to about 400 million prairie dogs — more than the number of people in the U.S.!
Wee ones: How many prairie dogs can you count in the picture?
Little kids: If you’re the 6th prairie dog to show up for snacks, how many showed up before you? Bonus: If there are just 13 carrot pieces and each of the 6 prairie dogs gets 1, how many more dogs can get a snack after that?
Big kids: If a prairie dog town has 42 dogs the first day, 53 the next day, and 64 the day after that, what number do you guess comes next? Bonus: How many more prairie dogs were in that 400-million-dog town than the 320 million people in America?
Wee ones: 6 prairie dogs.
Little kids: 5 prairie dogs. Bonus: 7 more prairie dogs.
Big kids: 75 dogs, since we add 11 each time. Bonus: 80 million more prairie dogs than people!
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.