My claim as a math teacher has been that I can find a way for any child to love math. Games, art projects, STEM– there is always some way a child already uses math for fun. However, I met a challenge in a 4th grade boy who wasn’t all that interested in any math activity I could come up with. And then I found this book, The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math! My student had definitely never experienced scenarios like this in any school word problem. It amazed me how willing he was to do the math when interested in the story. The next time he came to tutoring he excitedly asked if we were using the book again.
Here is an example of an introduction to a challenge- you can see how it would capture an adventurous child’s attention! As an Amazon reviewer said, “Here are 24 very readable and doable challenges, ideal for an unmotivated youngster. This book is jammed with adventure, the kinds of settings that stimulate kids’ minds. That’s the way to a kid’s brain—through fascinating stories, mysteries and adventures. If I were ten years old, I would find Perfectly Perilous math irresistible. The problems in the book actually dare kids, providing a reason to want to solve them.”
One of the first challenges my student chose had to do with survivors of a shipwreck dividing up the food and water. After he solved the first part he looked at me and said “I just did that division myself?” He was so focused on solving the challenge that he hadn’t even realized how much math he was doing!
The book correlates to 5th-8th grade standards, although I have found younger kids (3rd-4th grade) can figure out the solutions with guidance. It is perfect for one on one tutoring and modeling problem solving. A child with a natural interest in math would enjoy solving the challenges independently. The book gives not only the solutions, but illustrated step by step explanations, as shown below.
Middle school teachers also report on Amazon reviews giving the challenges to groups of kids to work together to solve. For each challenge the book has a related math lab or physical activity.
I would highly recommend The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math as worth checking out!