This fellow doesn’t look so excited about standing in the mud, does he? Truth is, he probably loves it. He’s a wild boar, a cousin of our mud-loving farm friend, the pig. Wild boars are a lot less friendly, though. The boy boars have sharp 2-inch long tusks, and if they chase you they’ll poke those tusks right into you! Like their pig cousins, boars eat just about anything, and use their long snouts (noses) to dig up roots and tubers out of that mud. They can’t see very well, but they have a great sense of smell to make up for it. Boars do get dangerous if they think you’re attacking them, so you don’t want to hang out with these guys — even if you like hanging out in the mud.

*Wee ones:* We like to think of pigs as pink, but boars can be black, brown, red, or grey. How many colors can board be?

*Little kids:* Baby boars are called piglets. If you have 2 mama sows and twice as many piglets, how many boars of all ages do you have? *Bonus:* If a boar can smell you from up to 40 feet away and you’re only 30 feet away, what’s the shortest distance you need to run to be safe?

*Big kids:* Let’s say a “sounder” (group of boars) has some number of boars, and if you take that number, double it and add 5, you get 23. How many boars are in the sounder? *Bonus:* Only male boars have those tusks. If you have 24 boars chasing you but only 1/4 of them are male, how many tusks do they have all together?

*The sky’s the limit:* If you’re being chased by 16 boars, and together they have 4 times as many feet as tusks, how many of the boars must be males with tusks?

Answers:

*Wee ones:* 4 colors.

*Little kids:* 6 boars, since you have 4 piglets. *Bonus:* Anything more than 10 feet.

*Big kids:* 9 boars. If you added 5 to get 23, you had 18 before that, and you doubled to get 18. *Bonus:* 12 tusks, since you’re chased by 6 boars.

*The sky’s the limit:* 8 males. If they have 4 times as many feet as tusks, there must be 8 feet for every pair of tusks…which means for every 2 boars (8 feet), there’s just 1 pair of tusks. So 1/2 of the boars are male. Another way to solve it: 16 boars have 64 feet, which means they have 16 tusks, or 8 pairs.

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.