Post-Halloween Math Talk

File this under Talking about talking math with with your kids.

Waiting for the school bus this morning, the two adults and three children discussed last night’s Halloween events.

The neighbor girl, W (9 years old), announced that her brother, E (six years old), had gotten 90 pieces of candy for his trick-or-treating efforts. Griffin (9 years old) announced his haul of 51 pieces.

Me: Did E count each Nerd as one?

Image from Wikipedia

W: Oooo…maybe he did!

P (who is W and E’s father): We were at a house last night that had a bowl with a Take one sign. E went up, then came back and announced that he had taken three.

We told him he had to put two back.

He smiled and said, It’s a package of three!

I love this boy!

I thought for a moment about how various Halloween candies are packaged.


P: Yeah.


Image courtesy of Free Photo of the Day

I am not proud that I know this sort of thing. But on the rare occasion that my extensive candy knowledge is useful, I am not going to hide it either.

So what do we learn?

We learn that there is always a follow-up question, and that the follow-up question can bring out fun stories and ideas.

The conversation could have died after E’s 90 and Griffin’s 51 pieces were announced. But I got fun stuff by asking exactly what was being counted.

We have had fun with the question of what counts as one before, when Tabitha and I talked about Eggo mini-wafflesfor example.

Starting the conversation

North American residents probably don’t need my help here. Your children probably know yesterday’s candy count cold. Ask whether the Nerds (or Whoppers or Smarties or…) count as one piece.

If Halloween isn’t a thing where you are, keep an eye and an ear open for when your children are counting things that are packaged in groups.

4 thoughts on “Post-Halloween Math Talk

  1. I counted children that came to my door for Halloween. (111) Someone else I know counted pieces of candy given. (250) If everything else is equal, is the house in St. Paul way cooler than the other? Didn’t know about your blog, but will follow it now. – an appreciative recipient of the cider fairy

  2. It’s fun to do this with cleaning. We often set cleaning goals such as we are going to pick up 100 things, then read a book (literature is my oldests’ currency). 100 may seem like a huge amount of stuff to be on the floor but children’s toys tend to come with a million annoying little pieces. This teaches the toddlers counting order but also the concept the numbers enumerate, but it also brings great questions like. “Is my lego one thing or can I count each block?”, which then can turn into “Well you can count every 10 as 1”, which is a great way to introduce ratios and the idea of assigning value.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.