Have you ever had a snow cone? It’s crunchy ice topped with bright-colored syrup and served in a cone or cup. So who thought of this sticky, drippy treat? Actually, kids just like you helped invent it! Snow cones first showed up in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1850s. Freezers hadn’t been invented yet, so ice companies up north would send ice down south in trucks. On hot days, kids would chase after the trucks and beg for chips of ice. Grown-ups started making flavored syrup to top the ice they got. Then someone started selling the crushed ice wrapped in a newspaper cone. And you know what? That’s pretty much how we eat it today!

*Wee ones:* Wrap a piece of paper to make a cone. What shape does it look like from the side? How about from the top?

*Little kids:* If you and 5 friends each get a snow cone, but when no one’s looking you buy 2 more, how many snow cones do you all have together? *Bonus:* Motor Oil is a snow cone flavor. If the 1^{st}cone is Motor Oil, then the 3^{rd}, then the 5^{th}, what number is the next Motor Oil-flavored cone?

*Big kids:* Say a small snow cone holds 1 cup of ice, a medium holds 2 cups, and an extra-large holds 4 cups (oof!). If you buy 2 of each size, how many cups of ice do you have? *Bonus:* If you buy 1 cone each of strawberry, lemon, Motor Oil and Wedding Cake, in how many different orders can you eat them? (Hint if needed: How many orders can you eat just 2? Then look at how many orders to eat just 3…)

Answers:

*Wee ones:* It looks like a triangle from the side, but a circle from the top.

*Little kids:* 8 cones, since you had 6 before you snuck 2 more. *Bonus:* The 7^{th} cone.

*Big kids:* 14 cups, since 1 set of cones adds up to 7. *Bonus:* 24 orders. 2 flavors can be eaten in 2 orders: SL and LS. You have 2 choices for the 1^{st} slot, then only 1 choice for what’s left: 2 x 1 = 2. For 3 flavors, you have 3 choices for the 1^{st} slot (S, L, or M), and then for each of those, the other 2 flavors have 2 orders as we just found out (so it’s SLM, SML, MLS, MSL, LMS, LSM). You get 3 x 2 x 1 = 6. Now if you have 4 you have 4 choices for the 1^{st} slot, times 6 ways to order the other 3 for each of those 1^{st}-slot choices. So you have 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24.

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.