Slow and Steady Snail (Homeschool Math Favorite Challenging Puzzles)

This is a favorite type of homeschool math challenging puzzle — The Snail question.

Question: An aquarium is 47 cm deep. A snail starts at the bottom of the aquarium. Each day, during the daytime the snail climbs up 8 cm, and during the nighttime the snail slides down 3 cm. How many days will it take for the snail to climb out of the aquarium?

This is part of a series on Homeschool Math Challenging Puzzles, suitable for Grades 2-4. (Of course, students of other grades are also welcome to try them out.) The questions are suitable for:

  • Homeschooling for gifted kids
  • Preparation for GEP (Gifted Education Programme) screening and selection tests
  • Preparation for Math Olympiad
  • Puzzles for kids interested in math but find school work too easy.


A tempting answer would be 10 days. This is a trick! Those who get the answer “10 days” reason like this: each day the snail moves a net distance of 8-3=5 cm.

Hence, 47/5=9 R 2.

At the end of the 9th day, the snail moved 45 cm. Thus, rounding up will give 10 days as the answer. However, there is a tricky part to the question!

The correct answer is 9 days.

We can do a list:

Day 1 — 5 cm

Day 2 — 10 cm

Day 3 — 15 cm

Day 8 — 40 cm

Day 9 day time — 40 +8 = 48cm > 47 cm !!!

The snail is already out of the aquarium on Day 9!


Author: mathtuition88

Math and Education Blog

One thought on “Slow and Steady Snail (Homeschool Math Favorite Challenging Puzzles)”

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