Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dinner Math

As I was fixing dinner last night, Little Mister wandered into the kitchen and began to gaze longingly at the two leftover muffins on the counter.

"Do you want those for dinner?" I asked him.

"Yes," he replied, "but there are only two, and five of us love muffins."

"That's true," I agreed. "Daddy and I can probably do, though. How about we divide the muffins up among the kids?"

He brightened. "Okay!" he said enthusiastically.

I decided to challenge him mathematically, although the sort of fraction I was proposing, I would not have understood until much later. Still, he liked to think, and I knew he'd appreciate the attention.

"How are we going to divide these two muffins between three kids, so each kid gets an equal part?"

His first answer, as I expected, was to cut one muffin in half. I explained why this did not yield equal parts. This stumped him, and he retreated to the couch to lay down and think it over. I smiled to myself.

I expected him to forget about it, or come in and ask me for the answer.

"Do you want a hint?" I called.

"Sure," he agreed.

"It has something to do with thirds," I said.

He sat out on the couch for another few minutes as I rinsed fresh strawberries and cut off their tops.

"I got it!" he said, jumping up, and bouncing back in to the kitchen. "You cut both of the muffins into thirds."

"How does that give you equal parts for each kid?" I asked.

"Well," he said, in the manner of a professor warming to his explanation. "You have six pieces that way. If you give two to each kid, we all have the same."

"Right!" I said, pleased. "How much muffin does one kid have?"

"Two thirds," he reported, and headed back out of the kitchen. "And you can give Bean the cut-off pieces."

This is exactly what we did.

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