Crayon Parade

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Crayon Parade

September 23, 2019

We just love this map of Crayola crayon colors. It shows how Crayola has added more and more shades over the years. Back when the company started in 1903, there were just 8 crayon colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown and black. By 1935 there were 16 colors. The chart creator, Stephen von Worley, chose years with an exact multiple of the original 8 colors, so the stripes line up nicely. For instance, by 1949 there were 48 colors, 6 times as many 8. 2010 shows about 15 stripes per chunk, giving us 120 colors. It all helps us draw much better pictures today!

Wee ones: The “primary colors,” which we mix to make all other colors, are red, yellow and blue. How many colors is that?

Little kids: If your crayon box has 3 crayons in the front row and 1 more than that in the second row, how many crayons do you have?  Bonus: If you mix any 2 primary colors in equal amounts, you get a secondary color. Since there are 3 primary colors, how many ways can you mix 2 of them?

Big kids: By 1972 there were 9 times as many shades as the first 8. How many colors were there that year?  Bonus: If the vat of wax for red-orange uses twice as much red wax as yellow, and it uses 36 cups in total, how many cups of each color are in there?




Wee ones: 3 colors.

Little kids: 7 crayons, since it’s 3+4.  Bonus: 3 ways: blue + yellow (to make green), red + yellow (to make orange), and blue + red (to make purple).

Big kids: 72 colors.  Bonus: 24 cups red and 12 cups yellow. There are 2 parts red and 1 part yellow, making red 2 parts out of 3, and 1/3 of 36 is 12.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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