**What is Bedtime Math? 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, every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!

Some flavors just don't taste good together. Even if you like both ketchup and peanut butter, you don't want to use a ketchup-gooped knife to spread peanut butter on your sandwich. Unfortunately, there are times where these mess-ups can't be avoided. At drink machines where you press a button to get either lemonade, tea, or soda, they're all flowing out the same spout, so your drink might taste a little like some other drink. And in ice cream shops, you can always tell when the scoop scooped mint right before they scooped your chocolate. Well, sometimes people just give up and let flavors mix together on purpose. Dum Dums decided to turn this flavor-mashing into a new lollipop flavor: the secret “Mystery Flavor” of Dums Dums is actually a mix of whatever last flavor the machine made and the next one they're loading up. They just skip washing out the machine and let both flow together. But we're guessing that some combos work out better than others.

Have your kids count some tasty combos in these challenges from Bedtime Math:

*Wee ones*: If Dum Dums is choosing between Blue Raspberry, cream soda, and sour apple for their next flavor, how many choices of possible Mystery Flavor do they have?

*Little kids*: If you're pressing the button for lemonade and it's one of 9 drinks that squirt from that drink machine, how many other drinks could end up tainting your lemonade? *Bonus*: What if people have served only half of those other flavors – now how many could you taste?

*Big kids*: If you're working at the ice cream shop and all the customers are ordering 1 of 4 popular flavors, how many combos of correct-flavor-with-one-other-flavor-tainting-it can you have? *Bonus*: If 4 customers come in each asking for 1 of the 4 flavors, in how many different orders can you scoop those 4 cones?

__ Answers__:

*Wee ones*: 3 choices.

*Little kids*: 8 other drinks.

*Bonus*: 4 other drinks…and let's hope your apple juice doesn't get ruined by soda!

*Big kids*: 12 combos, because each of the 4 flavors can have any of the other 3 before it.

*Bonus*: 24 orders. If your flavors are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint, your combos are the 6 kicking off with V – VCSM, VCMS, VMCS, VMSC, VSCM, VSMC – and then repeat that general process for each of the other 3 flavors to make 3 more sets of 6.