A Fluffy Friend for Life

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.

A Fluffy Friend for Life

March 13, 2018

When someone does you a big favor — a really big one, like saving your life — you remember it forever. It turns out penguins feel thankful like that, too. In a story sent by our fan David S., back in 2011 a man in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil found a penguin lying on the rocks, covered with oil. The poor bird couldn’t swim to find food. So the man, Joao Pereira de Souza, cleaned up the penguin, fed him and took care of him, naming his new buddy Dindim. Once Dindim was strong and healthy again, he swam off into the ocean — but he comes back to Rio every year to visit Joao! Most penguins live in or near Antarctica, far from warm, sunny Rio. So Dindim swims 5,000 miles every year to visit Joao, just to say think-you.

Wee ones: Joao used to work as a fisherman. If he catches 3 fish and Dindim catches 1, how many fish do they catch together?

Little kids: If Joao catches 3 fish and Dindim catches 1 more than that, now how many fish do they catch?  Bonus: If Dindim made his 1st visit in 2012, in what year did he make his 5th visit?

Big kids: Penguins are super-fluffy, with up to 100 feathers in just a square inch of skin! If you count 200 feathers counting by 10s, what are the last 3 numbers you say?  Bonus: Joao was 67 years old in 2012. If in 2009 he was 8 times as old as Dindim was at the time, how much older than Dindim is Joao? (Hint if needed: 8 is 2 x 2 x 2, so to divide by 8, you just cut the number in half, then halve it again, then halve a third time.)

The sky’s the limit: Maybe Joao should swim partway to meet Dindim in the ocean. If Dindim swims to him from 2,500 miles away, and Dindim swims 4 times as fast as Joao, how far from Rio do they meet if they start at the same time?




Wee ones: 4 fish.

Little kids: 7 fish, since they catch 3 and 4.  Bonus: In 2016. If 2012 was the 1st, then the 5th visit is just 4 years later, not 5. Having to count an endpoint like that is called the “fencepost problem.”

Big kids: 180, 190, 200.  Bonus: 56 years older. In 2009 Joao was 64, making Dindim 8 years old at the time, and 64 – 8 = 56.

The sky’s the limit: 500 miles. If Joao swims 1 “part” and Dindim swims 4 parts, there are 5 parts in total, so each part is 500 miles.


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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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