It must be cool to be a great horned owl. You can turn your head around 270 degrees. Your parents expect you to stay up until midnight. And on top of that you can fly 40 miles per hour! Well, that wasn’t quick enough for one owl. This fellow flew in front of a truck on the highway. The truck’s driver didn’t hear or see anything, so he thought the owl had squeaked by. But instead, the owl broke through the grill – the plastic covering near the engine – and sat there for another couple hundred miles! Amazingly, this plucky bird was fine – just a scratch on its elbow. Now it’s resting up at an animal shelter before its next big trip.
Wee ones: Some people say owls “hoot”, while other people say owls “who”. Which one of those words has more letters? How many letters does it have?
Little kids: An owl has 2 legs. If there were 3 people and 1 owl in the truck, how many legs do they have all together? Bonus: If this owl rode 101 miles in the truck but wanted to go 95, how many miles too far did it go? Try counting up from 95!
Big kids: Owls have 4 toes on each of their 2 feet – 3 toes pointing forwards and 1 toe pointing backwards. If a “parliament” (group of owls) has 36 toes pointing forwards, how many owls must be in that group? Bonus: If an owl flies 40 miles per hour and a truck drives underneath it in the same straight line at 60 miles per hour, how long will it take for the truck to be 100 miles ahead of the owl?
Wee ones: “Hoot” has 4 letters – more than “who”, which has 3 letters.
Little kids: 8 legs – 4 pairs. Bonus: 6 miles too far.
Big kids: 6 owls, because each owl has 6 toes pointing forwards. Bonus: 5 hours, because the truck gains 20 miles on the owl per hour.
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.