Math = Love: Petals Around the Rose Report

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Petals Around the Rose Report

Three class periods into Day 2, I was worried that I had messed up big time.  I'd given my kids a brain teaser to work on.  Nobody in second period figured it out.  Nobody in third period figured it out.  Kids were leaving my room frustrated.  I was frustrated.  Then, fourth hour happened.  And, the whole day turned around.

Day 2 ended up being one of my favorite beginning of the year activities.  Ever.  Guys, this is a keeper.

Students entered my room to find this on the SMART board.

A few students took "thinking cap" to mean "we can wear a hat even though it's against school dress code."  Nope.  

On Day 1, students took a quiz about me and wrote me a quiz to take about themselves.  I passed these back along with highlighters to grade with.  

Oh my goodness.  The kids had so much fun grading the quiz I had taken.  I made a 100% on several quizzes.  That freaked those kids out!  I made a 0% on some of the quizzes, too.  How does one make a zero on a quiz that is matching?!?  

I did accidentally put that one of my students was 25...  She gave me more than a bit of grief on that one.  And, answering that a kid has 10 dogs makes you sound a bit crazy.  Some of my students realized that the correct answer to their question wasn't even in the answer bank they made...  The kids corrected the quizzes and gave them back to me to study.  I wasn't too sure how I felt about the whole quiz idea at the end of the first day.  But, seeing their reactions when I gave their quizzes back was SO WORTH IT!  

Fridays in my classroom start with a puzzle or brain teaser for students to figure out.  

I put the name of the game up on the SMART Board.  

Then, I reminded them that the name of the game is important.  Really important.

We went over what to do when they thought they had figured out the puzzle.

At this point, the kiddos were more than a bit confused.  You may be too if you haven't read my previous two posts about this game here and here.

I used the multiple dice feature on SMART Board to project five dice that roll with just a tap or click.

I rolled the five dice.  I told the students how many petals were around the rose.  I asked them to come up with a theory of why that might be.  They shouldn't tell me their theories.  We'd test them in a minute.

Then, I rolled the dice again and let them test their theories.  We rolled.  And rolled.  And tested.  And rolled some more.  Like I said earlier, 2nd and 3rd period never figured out the puzzle.  We stopped and took a syllabus break in the middle.  I passed out my syllabus.  Students highlighted key sentences.  I gave them this parent information sheet to take home.


After getting through the syllabus stuff, we went back to Petals Around the Rose.  I kept reminding students that the name of the game was important.  They kept responding that there was no rose!  Or, they would proclaim that the game was wrong because they'd never seen a rose with ZERO petals.  :)

Fourth hour, things started to turn around.  One of my stats kids had seen this puzzle on youtube before.  So, he answered the first three rolls correctly.  This wowed his classmates.  And, it let him earn a Fraternity of Petals Around the Rose membership card.  He also got to sign the Fraternity poster.

You can see the poster in this picture of my posters that will not stay stuck to the wall.  Ugh...  This is pre-signatures.

Here's the membership card:

The first student to get his name on the Petals poster just happens to be a twin.  And, his twin just happened to be in the same class.  Now, when one twin knows how to solve a puzzle and the other doesn't, this can be some super-motivation.  Let's just say it was only a minute or two before the twin brother joined the Fraternity of Petals Around the Rose.  The rest of the class now knew that the puzzle was possible to figure out.  Within a few more minutes, there were multiple new inductees.

You could tell that some of their classmates were becoming quite frustrated.  Those who understood the puzzle kept reminding those who didn't understand it YET that the name of the game was important.  Some even took to yelling "Petals AROUND the Rose!!!!" in their neighbors' ears.  That helped.  Not.

One of my students left class so visibly frustrated that people in the hall were asking him what was wrong!  By the time lunch was over and fifth hour rolled into my room, talk about this petals game was all around the school.  There was something powerful for these kids about seeing names on the Petals poster.  Students knew the puzzle was possible because the names of their peers were on the poster for them to see.

More names were added to the poster.  More students left frustrated.  Same thing happened seventh period.  A student who doesn't even have me this year came by to ask about the puzzle because he had heard some friends talking about it and wanted to look it up online and try it.

One student pulled out his wallet during class and tried to bribe other students to tell him the secret.  That's dedication to a puzzle!  Another student told me that this is the type of puzzle that leads people to commit suicide.  I hope he was exaggerating.

On Monday, I had students report that they had spent hours playing petals that weekend trying to figure it out.  One girl even downloaded a Petals Around the Rose app to her phone!  Students reported showing this game to their families and coworkers.  One even told me that they made a version using playing cards.  A former student/sibling of a current student has been trying to figure it out for days now.  Let's just say having a sibling figure it out is a pretty big motivator!  (Let's be honest.  My boyfriend figuring out the puzzle before I did was a huge motivator for me.)  

Kids were begging to play again on Monday to show off their Petals skills so they could get their membership cards and sign the poster.  I've just never seen kids so excited about a brain teaser before.  I guess I've never made such a big deal out of a brain teaser before, though.


  1. This year I did my syllabus with piktochart. I displayed mine in color on the overhead, and had them color/fill it in as we went over it. Plus I had them after they returned them signed by their parents, glue them into the INB's.

    1. Very cool! I've some awesome syllabi done this way!

  2. Did you share the fact that the answer would always be even or zero with your students? I saw this on the online game you recommended in an earlier post. I solved the puzzle almost immediately and I thought that fact really helped me out.

    1. I did with a couple of classes. The online version gives them this fact.

  3. Are you sure a kid named vince! didn't pull the other letters down?