This Week From Bedtime Math: Gator Mania

How many alligators is too many alligators? Find out in today&s challenge from Bedtime Math!
By Laura Overdeck
May 20, 2014



This Week From Bedtime Math: Gator Mania

May 20, 2014

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!
In that swampy part of southern Florida called the Everglades, alligators abound. They love the warm, muddy water swirling around the roots of mangrove trees, and for lunch they get to pounce on yummy egrets, herons, and other birds who nest there. There are so many alligators that if you ride through on an airboat (a flat-bottomed boat with a giant fan to blow it forward), you're sure to have alligators swim right up to you, like this photo of "Buckethead" as the Everglades tour guides like to call him. Alligators have been so well protected that there are now 3 million of them living there…in fact, as the guides will tell you, if a gator wanders into your kitchen, the Fish and Wildlife department will say it isn't an emergency unless the gator is longer than 4 feet. Shorter than that, you're told to shoo the animal away yourself with a broom. Let's hope Buckethead and his buddies stay in the swamp.

Now that you know a little bit about alligators, see if you can challenge your kids to come up with the answers to these math problems:

Wee ones: Buckethead is 11 feet long. Whose body is longer, yours or Buckethead's?

Little kids: If Buckethead is 11 feet long and your boat is just 1 foot longer, how long is your boat?  Bonus: The distance from an alligator's eyes to its nostrils in inches tells you the length of the whole gator in feet. If Buckethead's swamp neighbor "Eileen" has an 8-inch gap, how many feet longer is Buckethead?

Big kids: Alligators have dozens of teeth in those big jaws. If you currently have 20 teeth and the alligator has 4 times as many, how many does the alligator have?  Bonus: Alligators' snouts get more rectangular as they get older – the pros guess that Buckethead is about 80 years old. If he's exactly 80, in what year was he born?
Wee ones: Buckethead is longer – you're definitely shorter than 11 feet!
Little kids: 12 feet long.  Bonus: 3 feet longer.
Big kids: 80 teeth.  Bonus: The year 1934.

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