It’s Valentine’s Day, when people all over America give each other flowers, balloons and chocolate to show that they love each other, even though we all actually love each other every day. They also give cards, and for kids who send cards to their entire class at school, this becomes a pretty big project. You have to pick out a set of cards at the store or else make your own. Then you have to decide whether the boys and the girls all get the same kind of card, or should you give them different ones. Then there’s the matter of attaching a treat: should it be Hershey kisses, or pencils with hearts on them, or those candy hearts that say things like “I’m Yours”? If you like putting together Valentines, you can make this as complicated as you like…and if you do the math right, you’ll have a couple of treats left over for yourself.
Wee ones: If with your valentines you give out 10 heart stickers and 8 heart pencils, which treat did you give more?
Little kids: If your class has 23 kids including you, and everyone gives out valentines, how many valentines will you get? Bonus: If half of those valentines have a Hershey kiss in them, how many chocolate kisses do you get?
Big kids: If you have 23 kids in your class including you, and the valentines you want to get come in packs of 8, how many packs do you have to buy to have enough? Bonus: If the bag of Hershey kisses you buy contains 70 kisses, how many can you tape onto each valentine if you give the same number to everyone?
The sky’s the limit: Say you’re giving out 20 valentines, and you want to put 2 different treats in each one. If your choices are sparkly pencils, sticker sheets, and Hershey kisses, and half the kids get a pencil and 14 of them get a kiss, how many kids get a pencil and a sticker sheet?
Wee ones: More stickers.
Little kids: 22 valentines. Bonus: 11 Hershey kisses.
Big kids: 3 packs, since 2 packs will give you only 16. Bonus: You can give each one 3, since that adds to 66 (and 4 apiece would come to 88, which you don’t have).
The sky’s the limit: You have to give kisses to as many non-pencil kids as possible, otherwise you’ll be stuck giving 2 sticker sheets to some kids, whereas they all have to get 2 different treats. So the 10 non-pencil kids get a kiss first, leaving 4 kisses. 4 pencil kids will get those kisses, leaving 6 pencil kids who get a sticker sheet instead.
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.