Monday, November 29, 2010

365 Penguins...and Problem Solving

I first read 365 Penguins while preparing for my math and literature class. (*See note at bottom of post about the related Advent Calendar.)

I love it for it's problem solving possibilities. Since it also starts on New Year's Day, it's timely...

Summary: When a box containing a penguin arrives anonymously on New Year's Day, a family of four is puzzled, but as they continue to receive one penguin each day their problems--and food budget, and storage issues--are multiplied.

While I do not think problem solving should be exploited every time you see a number in a book (an inherent danger with linking lit and math) the scenarios in this book are too good to pass up. Here are just a few of the possibilities. Quotes are from the book. The ensuing problems are mine.

  • “At the end of January, there were thirty-one penguins in the house.”
Problem Solve: If penguins continue arriving at this rate, how many penguins will there be in another week? Two weeks? At the end of February?

  • The family organizes the penguins in triangular stacks to discover that “Four times fifteen equals sixty!”
Problem Solve: What other equal groups could you put the penguins in? (Exploring factors of 60.)

  • On the following page, yet another penguin arrives, making it sixty “Plus one!"
Problem Solve: Can you put the 61 penguins into equal groups? Why or why not? (Exploring prime and odd/even numbers)

  • The penguins must be fed. "Each penguin ate 2.5 pounds of fish per day. A pound costs 3 dollars..."
Problem Solve: By this time, there are 100 penguins. How much does it cost to feed them? How much more will it cost in a month if they continue arriving at this rate? How much will food cost for a year? 

  • Penguins must be organized. Again! The family makes space for 12 boxes of 12 penguins. 
Problem Solve: How many total penguins will fit?

  • Penguins are organized into a cube of 6 x 6 x 6 penguins for storage.

Problem Solve: Now how many penguins?

On December 31st, the 365 guests gather. Uncle Victor arrives to take them away. Life begins to return to normal. Until the doorbell rings with ANOTHER DELIVERY! (I'll let you read the book to find out what happens! It's funny.)

This would make a great living book for math workboxes! It's also going to solve one of my Christmas problems...what to give my 8yo? Shhhhh...he's getting one for Christmas. ;)

*Also consider the 24 Penguins Before Christmas: A 365 Penguins Advent Calendar.


  1. I have the first book but not the second. I'm tempted.

  2. LOL. :) A small % will go to a really good cause. If you need convincing! ;)

  3. we need another book? It is tempting :)

  4. Sounds like a fun book. My son who is addicted to counting everything would probably love it.

  5. What wonderfully, fun ideas! LOVE it! I would love for you to link up to my TGIF Linky Party - - I am also your newest follower! I would love for you to follow me back, if you want to =-)


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