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Math Madness Wednesday: Puzzles!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This week's topic is PUZZLES!  Do you use puzzles in your classroom?  My kids LOVE puzzles (and, honestly, so do I!) so why not make them educational!?  

There are lots of different ways to make puzzles.  They can all look the same or the pieces can be very different.  They can have only 2 pieces or have lots of pieces.  

But, how do you keep them all organized?  I have found that printing them in different colors can help!  You can color code them by skill (telling time, money, synonyms, etc.), by level (separate them into groups so kids know which color puzzles they should always look for), or by number of pieces in the puzzle.  

There are a lot of great ideas out there on ways to organize your puzzles so the pieces don't get lost or mixed up.  You can use envelopes (laminate the first for extra durability!), baggies, various containers from around the house, school supply boxes or pencil bags, or binders.  

Check out some of the CREATIVE storage solutions I have compiled on my Pinterest page {HERE}.  Two of my favorite are these.  

The first is to put the puzzles inside of pencil pouches that fit inside 3 ring binders.  This would be great to use to store puzzles by subject, time of year, or size!  (This picture was found on Pinterest, but did not have a link to the original location).  The second picture is from Counting Coconuts.  These containers were used for large wooden puzzles, but I think they could work with any type of puzzles and even for classroom games!  Since they are easy to stack, they would be easy to store.  Just attach a label with the name of the puzzle or game (or write directly on the container with a Sharpie!).  

And, how about a way to use the puzzles you already have in an educational way?  Use the back of the puzzles!  

For this example, I used a puzzle I found at the Dollar Tree. 

 I put the puzzle together on an opened pizza box turned upside down.  After the puzzle was complete, I put the other half of the pizza box on the top of the puzzle and flipped it over so I could write on the back of the puzzle with the pieces in order.  If you have some fast finishers in your class, they could even write on the back for you.  (Suggestion:  If you are going to do this with more than 1 puzzle at a time, use different colored markers so you can easily identify which puzzle they go with!)

For this one, I created a hundreds chart.  This makes differentiation easy!  Students can put the whole puzzle together or you can have part of it already put together and have them fill in the missing pieces.  You could also use the puzzle for matching math facts, words in alphabetical order, or even skip counting.

Students can put the puzzle pieces together upside down (by putting the numbers in order) and when they are finished, they can flip it over to see what they have designed!

Want some puzzles for your classroom?  I have 2 Puzzle Packs on sale at Educents this week only!  My Math Puzzle Pack includes puzzles for shapes, telling time, coins, and numbers.  There are 2, 3, and 4 piece puzzles and lots of options in this big pack!  

For my CVC pack, I have puzzles for each of the short vowel sounds.  Recording sheets are included in all of my puzzle packs!  

What are YOUR best tips for working with puzzles?  

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