January 29th is National Puzzle Day! After conducting a few minutes of research, you may find puzzle celebrations and events around the country. These celebrations can occur at local libraries, community centers, or in the privacy of people’s homes. Maybe, I’m making this unofficial holiday a bigger deal than it is, but you can’t deny the popularity of puzzles.
I can remember as a child spending days putting together 5,000 box puzzles with my grandmother. Nowadays you can find word search or crossword puzzles on the kid's menu at restaurants. The great thing about puzzles is that they can be designed to match the needs or skill level of everyone regardless of age.
Since one goal of this blog is to share interesting math activities, I had to take the opportunity to discuss how teachers can use puzzles in a math classroom. Besides the fact that students find puzzles engaging, they also help build problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
Teachers can use puzzles to help students understand new concepts while reinforcing skills in subject areas. Puzzles can be utilized in a variety of ways within any classroom such as to review critical vocabulary, bell ringer, or given to students who finish assignments early.
While crossword and Sodoku puzzles are very familiar, other puzzles can be used in a math classroom. Thanks to technology, there are several websites where teachers can design classroom puzzles saving hours of time. The following websites are so easy to use that middle school students can create puzzles without the teacher assistance.
- Create a word search puzzle (Great for math vocabulary)
- Create a crossword puzzle (Great for math vocabulary)
- Create a math square puzzle
- Create a number block puzzle
To encourage peer collaboration while building critical thinking skills, allow students to create a puzzle and have a classmate solve it.
Join our newsletter list to access a ready-made word search puzzle focusing on financial literacy vocabulary terms that every middle school student should know.
Post in the comments below to share how you and your students celebrate National Puzzle Day.