Puzzling Minds

Keeping with our problem solving short Wednesdays, we did math station puzzle rotation today. Certain students really dislike when I assign one problem that takes the whole 40 minute block, so I thought I’d give out a few shorter activities today.

First station: Arrange all five pieces into a square. All the students found the 4 piece version and more than half tried to get away with sticking the little left over square on top. Most students were eventually successful with the five piece square although I know a little hint giving was done. I like this puzzle since every student walked in and said “This is easy!” and then quite quickly, “This is impossible!” After finishing, they’d sketch it in a notebook for me to check off.

<— All the pieces

A tricky Student —>

Second Station: Logic Puzzle Fun. Students could choose any of the varieties of logic puzzles I put out and solve it. They have seen each one of the choices at least once during the year.

Third Station: Four 4s. Basically, using exactly four 4s and any mathematical operation, create expressions to represent all the integers 1-100. This was the biggest hit. Students were whining and complaining at the beginning, but as soon as they got into it, they really got into it. I had multiple students try to skip their next class and stay in to do four 4s. I told them they could take them with them, but most replied “But I want you to know I did it myself.” I told them I trusted them, but still something about doing the problem while I’m in the room was important to them, so I told them it could be something they pull out as pre-class work or end of class work if they ever finish early. I feel so corny saying it, but it was so fun to watch them work in this one. They’d light up when they found a ‘hard’ number or used a funny operation. I got to introduce a whole lot of math vocabulary that we never get around it using. They loved this so much, I should have spent the whole hour on it. I had figured it would be the least liked activity. I was very wrong.