This Week From Bedtime Math: One Way or Another

Finding your way around a city can be pretty tough when the road signs argue with each other.
By Laura Overdeck
Dec 03, 2013



Dec 03, 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!

Do you see this set of signs? Can we go now, or not go?  And are we supposed to turn left or right?? These signs were spotted in Boston, a city famous for its many one-way streets. It's so hard to drive from one spot to another that drivers often drive backwards the wrong way on one-ways so they can actually get to their destination. At least if they get stopped by a cop, the car is facing the right way, even if it isn't moving the right way. Many other cities have one-way streets because they cut down the risk of crashes on narrow streets. But as we see from the math, one-ways can add a lot of extra driving.

See if your kids can navigate their way to the answers for these math challenges:

Wee ones: If you drive 3 blocks, then drive backwards 2 blocks, how far are you from where you started? (Note: You can roll a toy on the floor to help your children visualize this challenge!)

Little kids: If your favorite toy store is 6 blocks away, and by accident you drive 8 blocks, how many blocks do you have to drive backwards to end up at the toy store?  Bonus: If even-numbered streets run east and odd-numbered streets run west (like in New York City), and the street is 17th street, which way are you supposed to be driving?

Big kids: If a section of Boston has 42 streets and half of them are one-ways, how many of these pesky one-ways are there?  Bonus: If you drive a total of 27 blocks on one-way streets, but you drive 1/3 of them going backwards, how many blocks do you drive backwards?
Wee ones: 1 block away.
Little kids: 2 blocks backwards.  Bonus: West.
Big kids: 21 one-ways.  Bonus: 9 streets backwards.

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