**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!

Have you ever visited a tourist spot — a special place where lots of people come to visit — and seen one of these machines? It's called a penny press or penny pincher. It takes your penny and rolls it between heavy metal wheels that squash it flat, stamping a picture of that special place on it. You stick the penny and a few coins into the slots, push them in, and then choose your design. As you turn the crank and the gears squash your penny, it gets molded into that design — this picture shows one from the Alamo in Texas. Penny pressing usually costs a few quarters, and you spent the *penny*, too…so you won't be able to buy anything with that pointy copper oval after that. But, you won't want to give it up as a souvenir, anyway.

Now that your mental gears are turning, try challenging your kids with these math challenges:

*Wee ones*: If you have to put 3 quarters into the machine with your penny, how many coins do you need in order to penny-pinch?

*Little kids*: If the penny pincher needs just 1 quarter and your penny, how many cents does it gobble up to start? *Bonus*: If you have 3 dimes in total and you trade them for a quarter and a bunch of pennies, how many extra cents will you have left after pressing your penny? (Reminder: a quarter equals 25 cents.)

*Big kids*: If the penny pincher wants 61 cents in total, what's the fewest number of coins it needs to do the project? (Other reminders: a nickel is 5 cents and a dime is 10 cents. Assume a quarter is the largest coin it takes.) *Bonus*: If, like most presses, the machine wants 3 quarters, how many pennies does it need to press to earn a round number of dollars?

** Answers**:

*Wee ones*: 4 coins in total.

*Little kids*: 26 cents.

*Bonus*: 4 coins left, since you'll need 26 of your 30 cents.

*Big kids*: 4 coins: 2 quarters, a dime, and the penny.

*Bonus*: It needs to press 4 pennies (what's with all the 4′s today?) as that will earn it $3.00.