Math = Love: Puzzle Table: Weeks 18-24

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Puzzle Table: Weeks 18-24

It's time once again to start a new school year, so that means it's also time to make sure the previous year has been wrapped up on this blog! One of the things I haven't wrapped up from the 2017-2018 School Year is my puzzle table recap posts. You can check out previous posts here, here, and here.

Not sure what I mean by a puzzle table? Inspired by Sara VanDerWerf's idea of a play table, I put out a new puzzle for my students to play with during spare class time each Monday. The puzzle stays out for the entire week to spark student interest and curiosity. When I first started out, I mainly used  puzzles I had purchased. Later, I started downloading and laminating puzzles I had found online. Soon, I began searching for more and more puzzles from books which I could type up and use in my classroom. Most recently, I have been finding puzzle inspiration from the Puzzle Box books (Volumes 1-3) which are published by Dover Publications (affiliate link). To prove how much I LOVE these books, seven of the eight puzzles from the last eight weeks are from this series. I highly recommend using the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon to get an idea of the awesome variety of puzzles. So many of these logic puzzles can be adapted for classroom use, so these books are perfect for math teachers.

Another great source of puzzles is The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers by The Grabarchuk Family (affiliate link). Sadly, the book is now out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon.

You can also use the Amazon's Look Inside Feature to see more puzzles from this book! You can still access quite a few of the puzzles for free, though. Just keep clicking "Surprise Me!" on the left pane to see a different page of puzzles.

These four books are must-haves for anyone interested in incorporating puzzles into their classrooms!

For each puzzle, follow the underlined link to get more information and access a free downloadable file!

Week 18: Arrows Puzzle - This dry erase based puzzle didn't get quite as much attention/participation from my students as the puzzles from other weeks which involve manipulating pieces. A lot of my students don't like reading the instructions before jumping into a puzzle, so I'm thinking this is why many of them didn't jump into this puzzle.

Week 19: Double Letters - These puzzles drive my students insane! I always have more than a few students mad at me when I won't reveal the word at the end of the week when the puzzle is getting packed up to make room for the next week's puzzle. When I solve these puzzles myself, I find that I either find the world RIGHT AWAY or it's nearly impossible to figure out! Haven't solved one with a nice middle ground yet.


Week 20: Cover the Shape Puzzle - Remember the Duck/Camel/Heart puzzles mentioned in earlier puzzle table recaps? This puzzle uses the exact same pieces. Score! Sadly, I couldn't figure out a cool name for this puzzle, so I had to settle for "Cover the Shape." 

Week 21: Hidden Equation Puzzle - This dry erase based puzzle got a bit more attention than the arrows puzzle I mentioned above. I think this was because the puzzle was much more straight forward. I chose to use multiplication dots instead of x's because I thought my students might confuse the x's for variables. But, some of the comments said people were confused about the dots being decimal points. So, this puzzle may need a bit of work still... 

Week 22: Square the Shapes Puzzle - This puzzle led to some awesome conversations with students! The goal is to place the three circles so a square is formed with the circle already provided on the puzzle board. Then, do the same with the squares, the triangles, and the pentagons. Oh, wait, there's one more catch: each square must have different dimensions! My students were convinced it was impossible, but I promise it's not!

Week 23: Don't Get Stung Puzzle - This puzzle got a lot of attention on the puzzle table! I think this was a result of the fact that the puzzle pieces are so eye-catching. I had huge groups of students gathered around the puzzle trying to place the pieces to that shapes were not repeated in any of the rows (in any of the directions) AND that all the bees were hidden. Most of my students started off just trying to hide all the bees. They wanted to prove that it was even possible to hide all of the bees. I love this puzzle because it got kids to the puzzle table that rarely tried their hand at puzzles all year long.

Week 24: Mixed Emotions Puzzle - This was the last puzzle for the puzzle table for the school year. After my students had a productive struggle for quite a while with last week's puzzle, I looked forward to them tackling this puzzle. They eagerly did, and most of them ended up quickly solving the puzzle.I think this was a result of only being composed of four different puzzle pieces. Still, fun was had, and brains were challenged!

So, 24 puzzles later, I can't imagine not having a puzzle table in my new classroom. I'm looking forward to reusing my favorite puzzles from this year with my new students and trying out plenty of new puzzles, too. 


  1. I like the idea of adding this to my classroom. Do you have a drive folder with all your puzzle documents that you can share?

    1. There is a tab at the top of the page that I plan on using next year.