A Market Day

On Sunday, MeeMee was up and around with the first rays of the rising sun. This Sunday was a market day and MeeMee has been hatching plans for the big day for a long time now. This was a huge event for the neighborhood. On market day, animals from all corners of the forest came to the clearing along the riverbank to trade their wares. MeeMee especially craved cocoa cubes that he remembered from long ago. When they were little kids, Gerri's grandmother brought her a few cubes which Gerri generously shared with her friends. MeeMee could still close his eyes and feel the delicious taste of the candy melting in his mouth. His mouth was watering just at the thought of it.

He plucked a bunch of ripe yellow bananas and another bunch of red bananas from his family trees. MeeMee decided to count the bananas in the two bunches. He began with the yellow bunch: "One, two, three, four. Four yellow bananas," he was quite proud of his counting skills. He turned to the red bunch: "One, two, three. Three red bananas," he said contentedly. At this point he stopped a little bewildered. How many bananas were there in all? He scratched his head and began plucking at his tail - the sign that he was deep in thought. Then suddenly it came to him. He remembered the rule he learned the other day with his friends: it does not matter how you count. The total is always the same. So he decided to start with the red bananas.

"One, two, three. Three red bananas. One, two, three, four. Four yellow bananas." He felt miserable. For, what was the total? He looked intently at the two bunches of bananas.

Gerri, on her way to the market, found him sitting quietly, nervously plucking at his tail, with two bunches of bananas in front of him. "What are you doing?" she asked, "Let's hurry. The market is about to open."

MeeMee appeared to wake up from his deep trance. "Ah, Gerri. So good of you to stop by." And he told her of his quandary. He pointed to the bananas, "There are four yellow bananas and three red bananas, or, if you count in another way, three red bananas and four yellow bananas, but all-in-all, how many bananas are there?"

"Let's see," said Gerri. "You keep counting yellow bananas and red bananas, but why not to count just bananas? Look: one, two, three, four," Gerri counted yellow bananas. Then she turned to the red ones and continued: "five, six, seven. You got seven bananas, see?"

MeeMee was delighted to get a single number but still suspicious. "Seven you say. Let's check this." And he started counting with the red bunch: "One, two, three," he paused and glanced at Gerri. Gerri made a sign encouraging MeeMee to continue. And with her "go ahead!" MeeMee proceeded with his count: "four, five, six, seven. Seven again!" MeeMee took a deep breath. "I do have seven bananas, don't I?"

"Yes, you do," Gerri exclaimed. "And look. Isn't that interesting four bananas and three bananas together count seven bananas."

It does not matter how you count.

"Yes, right! Three bananas and four bananas also total seven bananas!"

"Let's hurry. I am sure I'll be able to trade one of my big and ripe banana for a few cocoa cubes. I can't wait to have one in my mouth."

Related material

  • The Idea of Counting
  • Let Them Count
  • Four Less One Is Three
  • Finger Counting
  • Counting: The Beginning of Mathematics
  • The Basic Rules of Counting

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