Math in a Minute: Puzzle Edition

Volume 3 Issue 16

January 29th: National Puzzle Day

Here are some great ways to incorporate puzzles into your math time.

Crossword Puzzles without Words

Crossword puzzles don't always have to be words.  Why not use numbers?  Learners can put numbers in the blocks.  Some digits will overlap, just like in a real crossword puzzle! has many great math crosswords already created for you to use or look at.

Self Check using Puzzles

Here is a great way for kids to self check.  The example shown here is matching addition facts with their sums.  There are many different topics that these cereal boxes can be used for as self checking tools:
  • angle measurement (ex: match "<" with "45 degrees")
  • definitions (ex: match "the result of adding numbers together"  with "sum")
  • attributes of shapes (ex: match "2D figure, 3 sides" with "triangle")
  • multiplication facts (ex: match "3 x 4" with "12")
  • objects and their measurements (ex: match "5 in." with "scissors")
  • measurement conversions (ex: match "12 inches" with "1 foot")

Puzzle Match

These puzzles allow learners to match numbers that have a sum of 20. Educators can create a self checking method by drawing a picture on the back of the puzzle before cutting the individual squares.

Click here for an example of a puzzle that can be edited to fit your needs.  

Puzzles for Sequencing

Here is a great type of puzzle that encourages learners to put stick in a specific sequence. Educators can draw a picture on the back of the sticks to add a self checking option for the learners. The example below is counting by 5's, but why not try these ideas?
  • Fractions in order from least to greatest
  • Decimals in order from least to greatest
  • Money in order from least amount to greatest amount (ex: 2 pennies, 3 dimes, 2 quarters)

Math Mystery Puzzles

Scholastic provides math mystery puzzles at different levels.  The story asks math questions in order to solve the mystery.  There are different level mysteries, various topics/skills required, and there is an audio function for those who are not ready to read the entire passage.  These mysteries can promote various thinking skills and reasoning.

Other Puzzles to Try

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