Great Puzzles

Find a Puzzle for the Classmates to Solve

I do problem solving every week with my classes. For the last week of term the students must bring in a puzzle that they think the rest to the class will find challenging or frustrating.

Each time I do this activity I'm amazed at the diversity of the puzzles the kids bring in. I've had Chinese finger puzzles, puzzles that the only way to solve them is to throw them on the floor and they come apart and even 'Grandpa's Party Trick'.

When giving this task I discuss the metacognition behind the task. Why am I setting this task? What do I mean by challenging? Where might we find puzzles of this kind eg Libraries, the internet, puzzle stores, from people we know. We then discuss possible search terms for search engines..

For the purposes of this activity...

'I couldn't find anything!' Really means,

'I didn't look in the right places'.

Puzzle Sharing Day:

I sit the students in groups of six and they each have to briefly describe their puzzle and tell where they found it. The students then have around 15 minutes to try and solve the puzzles.


Next we work out a method of rotating through the groups so everyone gets to see 'most' of the puzzles. Often this involves the children in each group choosing the three 'most interesting' or 'most challenging' puzzles and those three students go off to show their puzzles to the next group.

The puzzles are then stored in a central location in the room for a week (if the children and parents are cool with that) and you'll be surprised how many students drift over to try and solve their favourite puzzle.

The other beauty of this activity is that you get to see which puzzles work and which do not. Which puzzles are challenging and which are not. Then you have some more tools for your 'Teaching Toolbox'.

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