Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fun and Engaging Math Puzzles for 4.NBT.4

Welcome to my new teaching blog. I love the design! Megan at A Bird In Hand, did a great job putting together all my favorite things in to my blog design. Stop by her blog for a visit. She has a lot of patience with new bloggers (ask me how I know!) 

Thanks to Teaching Blog Addict for allowing us 'newbies' to link up to her post. 

Drill and Practice! Oh how students groaned and moaned when they were handed a worksheet with problems to work out. They needed the practice though, Practice Makes Perfect! Right? I use Math Puzzles in my room and my students never, ever turn them down! They are aligned to the Common Core Standard that we are working on at the time. I can use them as an assessment or just as practice. I love color and cute, and these are both, but they are also a meaningful activity that incorporates some higher level thinking by having students think about the numbers and move the puzzle pieces around until they all fit together. 
Math Puzzles CCSS Aligned 4.NBT.4

First I took the regular Magic Squares that we have all used for years and “fixed” them up a bit. My Math Puzzles (on sale for 3.00!) are designed for groups of 4, with each student getting a different Puzzle Sheet. No more having to cut the pieces out yourself and paper clip together for each student. Also, every 4 students will have a different puzzle and you will have the answer sheet for a quick check. This is how it works for me.

Math Puzzles 4.NBT.4 
In the picture you see a Teacher Answer Sheet #1 and a Scrambled Squares for Students # 1. The fonts match on the TA Sheet 1-4 and the Scrambled Student Sheet 1-4. I put the 4 TA sheets on a Clipboard to carry with me so I can monitor my students working out the problems.

Students working in journals using Math Puzzles 4.NBT.4

The picture above shows two different students' work. After cutting out their squares, they get to work. The math problems align with the common core standard 4.NBT.4. They are working the math problems out in their journals (showing their work.) I ask them to write the answers on the math puzzle pieces because it makes putting the puzzle together easier. 

Notice one Student pasted the I Can Statement at the top of her puzzle page. This is required and is included in the Math Puzzle 4.NBT.4 packet. ( I always include PAM somewhere in the  puzzle.) They love it!

This student went to another page where she had some extra room (to save her paper) and starting working her problems out. The journals are graded every 9 weeks and kept to show students growth.

You can see where this student has written her answers in with pencil.

The 4 different fonts keep the students from glancing over at what someone else is doing. All students have the same 31 problems that match 4.NBT.6 but they are scrambled up!

Some students work methodically. 

These are finished squares from 5th grade.

After finishing, I check their work by just looking at my 4 clipboard pages. Then they glue the squares and color. Some students never get to the coloring part because they might work slower than others. The first pic shows the different between the usual Magic Squares (this one shown came from  To differentiate by giving some students less problems to work with, just take off the bottom 4 squares from your Teacher Answer Sheet. When the student has cut all of his out, take those bottom pieces away. It gives the same practice but with fewer problems to do which would be helpful with some students who cannot process so many at one time.

Hope this helps with your classroom activities. Email me with any questions for comments! Next time I'll show of the work we are doing with task cards.

If you follow by email, my next post will come to your mailbox! Thanks so much and I plan to offer a buy 2 get one free on my TPT store! You will also be able to browse and buy products from my blog.  Please keep in touch and let me know how your teaching is going! 


  1. I just started my own blog this week. I'm excited to come across yours. I love the name. I teach in FL and am a huge fan of the coastal reference in your name. All the best!


  2. Thanks so much! My very first comment! It wasn't easy hitting Publish, but the first step in anything is always the hardest! I'll go visit your blog! Pam

  3. Lookin' good Pam! Wish we coulda worked together here in Fayetteville. Envious of you hanging at the beach! Great ideas. Planning to follow along and see what you come up with next.

  4. Hi Teched Out Teacher! We probably went to the same workshop or sat near each other at some Professional Development. You are so fortunate in Cumberland Co. So much PD and it is all free!
    I have to say though, being so near the beach is just wonderful. I soak up all this wonderful beach air and realize this is what I dreamed about.
    Do you have a blog? Let's link up if you do! Pam

  5. Pam,
    This idea is such an incredible one (and no cutting for the teacher! ;) I think seeing this in pictures with how they work it out in their journals is so valuable.

    Leslie - Teach

    1. Leslie, you are like me, NO Cutting for the Teacher!
      It is kinda convoluted until you do it once, or see it done.
      Thanks for the comment, I am going to head on over to your blog to check it out! Pam

  6. Great looking blog! As a former fourth grade teacher, I love the way you have made the Math Puzzles teacher friendly and more engaging than worksheets for the students. I now teach first grade in Northern Virginia.
    Kathy's First Grade Adventure

  7. Thanks for the visit Kathy Linn! Worksheets had their place, and we still need some type of assessment but this makes it more project based. You teach in a beautiful part of the US. Thanks for joining up and I am going to stop by your blog for a visit! Pam

  8. Love this lesson idea! I'm sure the kids love the tactile aspect of it, and it's easily assessable. I'm a big fan- I am definitely adding it to my TpT wishlist!


    1. Mandy, I love that title.... caffeine and lesson plans! They do love this. I just enjoy watching them concentrate so hard. They don't even realize they are working out problems... they just want to get to the puzzle part.
      I am going to stop by our place for a visit!
      Thanks so much! Pam

  9. Doesn't Megan do great work?! I think that I also tried her patience ;) What is AIG? I don't think that we use that acronym in my part of the country.

    Good luck with the new blog!
    Fifth in the Middle

  10. Yes she does Diane! It is amazing that she can take all my 'wants' and turn them into something that I just love! I wish someone could do that with my house!
    AIG is Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Students. What do you call your higher level students? I guess now that we have Common Core we should also have common acronyms!
    Thanks for the visit, I am going to pop on over to your blog! Pam

    1. We call it either ELP (Extended Learning Program) or TAG (Talented and Gifted). Learned something new today!

      I love your puzzles! If I taught math, I would totally use them!


  11. Hey! I was over at your place looking around while you were telling me what your gifted program was called! Love your blues. We really have to all get together and thank Megan for all her hard work! Pam

  12. Pam,

    I love this idea! It is such a great way for your kiddos to go back and reflect on what they have learned. I have a few kiddos that are like Edward Scissorhands and would love all of this cutting....and I know they would make a HUGE mess!!! Lol! =)

    Your blog design is precious. I am so happy to be your newest follower. If you get the chance, I would love for you to hop over and visit me. =)

    Heather's Heart

  13. Heather, thank you so much for the kind words, and for following my blog! I am going to pop over to your blog to see what is going on. I know I love the name! My students used to make such a huge mess. After seeing how their neighbors are cutting out nicely, they 'almost' have cleaned up a bit! Mine are 4th and 5th though! Thanks for stopping by the am! Pam