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Math Puzzle, Get Students Thinking

math puzzles strategic thinking

Math Puzzles, Get Students Thinking

Google Home was just introduced, this allows you to shout out questions to the universe and have the answer spoken back to you.

Google Home

Wouldn’t it be interesting to get a Google Home for the classroom so students could shout out “Ok Google, what is the perimeter of a square with a width of 7 and a height of 12?” If you can ask Google Home (or Google Search in general) a question and get the answer with a single search, that is evidence that it is not higher level thinking.

21st Century skills say we should emphasize critical thinking. Puzzles can be one way to get students using strategic thinking.

Ask Higher Level Thinking Questions

If you are not familiar with Robert Kaplinsky, you will want to check out his website. He provides a lot of great information on how to increase critical thinking (DOK levels) in math. Here is a post on how he got students struggling with DOK 1 tasks to be successful at DOK 3 tasks.

Puzzle Template


math puzzle in a spreadsheet

This came from a tweet by @Mr_Mathematics. As usual I thought… “This should be a spreadsheet!”

Spreadsheet Activity

The spreadsheet allows students to try different numbers to solve the puzzle. When all 4 of the sum/difference squares turn green the student has solved the puzzle. One reason I love using spreadsheets in math is the ability to use conditional formatting to self-grade.
spreadsheet conditional formatting

4 Puzzles

The spreadsheet has 4 different types of math puzzles. Each puzzle variation is on a different tab along the bottom.

look at the tabs at the bottom

New Puzzles

The 4 sample puzzles are just that, samples. These can make a great daily warm up for awhile if you change the numbers. On the last tab “Auto gen new puzzles” I have written some formulas to randomly generate puzzles. Jot down the green sum/difference numbers in the auto generated puzzle and replace the numbers on the puzzle tabs.

Auto generate more puzzles

Suggestion to delete the “Directions” tab and delete the “Auto gen new puzzles” before distributing to students.

3 thoughts on “Math Puzzle, Get Students Thinking”

  1. Pingback: Upgrade the Worksheet: Place Value - Teacher Tech

  2. Pingback: Math and More! | The Incidental Techie

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