Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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 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. 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.


  1. Students are quite self-assured they are able to manage everything at once but as it appears mostly they fail in either studies or work, so what is the main cause of their faults? http://livecustomwriting.com/blog/10-common-mental-problems-of-students

  2. I don't know, some children are beyond me.... I can only help some of them so much and then they need others that are trained in OT, EC, and other specialties. I can only hope though that the ones that pass through my door get the help they need. Pam