Kindness in Mathematics

Deeds not words. (eng) Facta non verba (latin)

This story aimed at 5-7 year olds. It introduces addition and subtraction. But also can be told at 9-10 years old when studying fractions.

One rich Khan from Persia has accumulated ten thousand gold coins. From this sum he took one hundred coins to feed all hungry people in his kingdom. His cooks begun to prepare a tasty dish from rice and meat, while the khan’s servants went to invite poor men for this lunch. On the way these servants met in the forest one poor woodcutter and ordered him to come for the khan’s feast.

“The generosity of our Khan is boundless,” servants have told.

“Thanks, but I used to live by my own work,” the poor man answered.

Servants become angry, seized the woodcutter and have led him to their khan.

“Today I spent ten gold coins and with this money I managed to feed more
than one thousand persons, and what great deeds did you do?” the Khan
proudly asked the poor woodcutter.

“Well, today I have earned only four copper coins and on this money I was
able to feed only four persons, this is what I’ve done. I fed my wife,
myself and two sick old men, my neighbours,” modestly answered the

At these words the Khan’s face changed. “Who is more generous: me or this
woodcutter?”  thought the Khan to himself.

Questions and tasks to the fairy tale :

  • What part of the money was spent on the people by the Khan, and what part – by the woodcutter? Try to compare it.
  • What do you think, who is more generous, the Khan or the woodcutter?
  • Imagine that you have six sandwiches and split sandwiches in equal shares between you and your hungry : dog , brother and sister, five hungry friend. What part of the whole amount will you give in first, second and third case?

Prepared by Ada Mehmed and Danilo Borovnica from book “Magic Mathematics. Kind plus and Wise minus” by  Maria Skrebtsova and Alexandra Lopatina. 

About DaNe

Math teacher and IT expert with nearly 30 years of experience with interest in math, astronomy, life long learning, dance, music.
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