Today's Bedtime Math Problem: Juggling by the Numbers

Juggling is tricky business: no matter how many objects you&re juggling, you still have only two hands. And that can lead to some pretty interesting math.
By Laura Overdeck
Jun 04, 2013



Jun 04, 2013

If you know how to juggle, you probably have all kinds of people asking you to perform.  And why not?  After all, juggling tennis balls or bean bags requires some real talent.  But it doesn't have to stop there. The Flying Karamazov Brothers, a famed juggling and comedy troupe, often invite the audience to give them weird-shaped objects that will be impossible to juggle. In one show witnessed by a friend, the jugglers were handed everything from half a bowling ball, to a sticky rubber octopus, to an old-fashioned telephone. (If you don't know what one looks like, trust us, it isn't easy to juggle!)

If you decided to master juggling, what strange tricks could you come up with? Here are a few ideas to get you started – and a little math, too…

Wee ones: If you juggle 3 balls, 3 bananas, and 3 flip flops, how many objects are you juggling in total?

Little kids: If you and your 3 friends each juggle 3 rubber chickens, how many rubber chickens are being juggled? Bonus: If 1/4 of the chickens surprise you and fly away, how many do you all have left?

Big kids: If you juggle 3 tricycles, and each one weighs 15 pounds, how many pounds of tricycle are you juggling? Bonus: If you add in 2 skateboards and each one weighs 9 pounds, now what's your total?

Wee ones: 9 objects.
Little kids: 12 rubber chickens (for 4 people total). Bonus: 9 rubber chickens left.
Big kids: 45 pounds. Bonus: 63 pounds.


A message from Laura:   Bedtime Math is a pretty simple idea: We all know we should read to our kids at night, but what about math?   My husband and I have done fun, mischief-loaded math problems with our kids at night for years, and when at age 2 our third child started hollering for his own math problem, we realized we were onto something:  In a world where so many people say "Ewww, math!," we had created a household culture where kids don't just tolerate math, they actually seek it out.   Now we email parents a fun, lively math problem every day to do with their kids – and every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!  

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