Math Puzzles

I have to admit that I really didn’t understand the power of building number sense until I watched my colleague and friend, Lisa Dissington, conduct a math talk with her students. I was amazed by the amount of critical thinking, creative problem solving, and thoughtful communication these third grade students displayed over the course of one short classroom discussion. Each of the sites below provide teachers with quick and easy to use math puzzles to help build number sense, problem solving, and critical thinking in any math classroom.

Which One Doesn’t Belong?

http://wodb.ca/

Which One Doesn’t Belong presents students with the opportunity to decide which of four mathematical objects doesn’t eblog with the others. There are no right or wrong answers, requiring students to support their choices. Each thought-provoking puzzle is a collage of four different shapes, numbers, graphs, or equations. Lisa Dissington (math talk master mentioned above) has worked with her students to create a series of “Math Detectives” challenges for all students in our school (PK-5). We show the segment every Monday on our morning news program and student share their thoughts on a school-wide Flipgrid. Students in kindergarten and students in fifth grade are able to make equally meaningful contributions to the conversation.

Estimation 180

Andrew Stadel builds number sense and problem solving skills with daily, picture-based, estimation challenges for his students. He generously shared over 200 challenges in his ever-growing collection. He also has a handout that makes it easy for students to document and monitor their progress. Be sure to also take a look at Andrew’s ketchup container Desmos activity.

Would You Rather

Would You Rather presents students with a picture of an every day item, along with a thought provoking question. It asks them to make a decision and justify their reason with math. In addition to some unique ways of promoting critical thinking, I’ve seen several great examples for teaching students how to calculate unit price and determine which sales promotion would be their best option when making purchases. Check out the student handout (which was also made by Andrew Stadel of Estimation 180). Would You Rather is the creation of John Stevens who is also a co-author of The Classroom Chef: Sharpen Your Lessons, Season Your Classes, Make Math Meaningful.

What Are Your Favorite Math Puzzles?

Do you have a favorite source of math puzzles? Please share in the comments below or on Twitter.

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