If you’re reading this at bedtime, what better way to fall asleep than to count sheep — and better yet, a whole parade of them? Ever since the year 1273, Spanish shepherds have “migrated” (moved) their sheep from northern Spain to the warmer, sunnier southern parts for winter. For centuries the farmers have used the exact same 78,000 miles of paths, which run right through the giant city of Madrid. In early November nearly 1 million sheep walk past cafes, clothing stores and other places sheep don’t normally go. The shepherds pay a small coin to City Hall to parade through, and the sheep get to see all the great wool sweaters they’ve helped make.
Wee ones: If a sheep has 4 legs and you have 2, who has more?
Little kids: If the shepherds herded 600,000 sheep and 100,000 cows, how many animals was that in total? Bonus: If the sheep marched through on November 2, how many days ago was that? (Today is Nov. 13.)
Big kids: If the sheep walked 12 miles of Madrid streets and saw 10 shops per mile, how many shops did the sheep see? Bonus: Spain is about 700 miles tall from north to south. If a sheep has to walk just half that distance, how far does it walk?
Wee ones: The sheep.
Little kids: 700,000 animals. Bonus: 11 days ago.
Big kids: 120 shops. Bonus: 350 miles.
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.