Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) every November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my 2022 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students.
If you’ve got a kid who’s advanced in math and/or a middle school student who loves math, this book just might be an excellent gift. The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math, by Sean Connolly, has 24 “Death-Defying” Challenges for young mathematicians, and the humor with which it’s written is perfect for this age range.
This book is yet another winner that I would have loved to use in my classroom. Posing witty math problems such as, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “Buried Alive?” The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math categorizes the challenges by your chances of survival. “You Might Make It” problems address Common Core Standards for Grade 5, “Slim to None” are the Grade 6 problems, and “You’re Dead” challenges include Grade 7 standards. If the reader wants some hints, Euclid always has some sage advice to offer, and the solutions are broken down so you can see the type of thinking needed to solve the problem. In addition, there is a “Math Lab” recommended for each problem that gives instructions for creating a hands-on method of seeing the challenge in action. To make the book even more enjoyable, there are amusing illustrations throughout.
Can you avoid death by a giant blade or vexed parents? Will you be able to save Dr. Grog from an untimely demise due to a Brazilian wandering spider’s bite? Only your persistence and mathematical prowess can help you to escape each dangerous situation.
Rather than just handing the book to your gift recipient, I would sit down with them and challenge them to a duel of the wits for each death-defying situation, so you can model the enjoyment of trying to work out a perplexing problem. Don’t worry if you don’t remember middle school math; your opponent will be even more thrilled if they outwit you!
And if you are looking for more entertaining math activities, don’t forget about Math with Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin, one of last year’s recommended gifts!