This Week From Bedtime Math: the Missing Piece

Sometimes everything comes together perfectly and other times…well, other times the opposite happens.
By Laura Overdeck
Oct 22, 2013



Oct 22, 2013

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!
Jigsaw puzzles offer that perfect balance of fun and frustration.  The more squiggly-shaped pieces you have, the harder it is to finish it, but the more awesome you feel when you finally do.  What really matters is the size of the pieces compared to the size of the designs: If an apple uses up just 4 pieces, that's pretty easy, but that same apple made up by 40 pieces will be much harder.  Then there are those pieces that look like they should fit together but don't.  And just to make things interesting, there's always the one piece that's missing from the set.  But even with all these challenges, somehow we stick to it until we get every piece possible in place.

See if your children can solve these math puzzles:

Wee ones (counting on fingers): The world's largest jigsaw puzzle has over 32,000 pieces!  It's 17 feet long and 6 feet wide when put together.  If you lay down across it the short way, how many feet wider than you is it? (You can round your height to the nearest foot.)

Little kids: If your jigsaw puzzle is 10 pieces across by 6 rows tall, how many puzzle pieces should you have in total?  Bonus: Say the vacuum sucked up 3 pieces, your dog ate 2 pieces, and 5 pieces got mixed into some other puzzle box.  How many pieces do you actually have?

Big kids: A common approach to puzzles is to build the border first, then fill in the inside pieces.  If there are 60 pieces on each long side of the puzzle and 20 on each short side, how many total edge pieces does the puzzle have? (Remember that there are two long sides and two short sides – and don't double-count the corners!)  Bonus: If the puzzle pieces are all in neat rows and columns following those edge pieces, how many inside pieces are there?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…subtract your height from 6 feet.
Little kids: 60 puzzle pieces.  Bonus: You are missing a total of 10 pieces, so you actually have 50 puzzle pieces.
Big kids: 156 edge pieces: There are 120 long-edge pieces and 40 short-edge pieces, but then you take away the 4 corner pieces because the long edges counted them already.  Bonus: There are 1,200 pieces total…so if you take away the 156 edge pieces, you have 1,044 pieces in the middle.

The Learning Toolkit Blog
Age 13
Age 12
Age 11
Age 10
Age 9
Age 8
Age 7
Age 6
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3