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National Standards

Listed below are some examples of the standards that could incorporate puzzles.

Art

— Using knowledge of structures and functions

English Language Arts

— Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Geometry

— Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships.

— Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems.

Science

— Conceptual and procedural schemes unify science disciplines and provide students with powerful ideas to help them understand the natural world. Systems, order, and organization is part of the Unifying Concepts and Processes Standard.

Social Studies

— Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.


Technology (NETS)

— Students use technology resources for solving problems.

— Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.

From a very early age children are fascinated with puzzles. Put a puzzle on the classroom table and students will gravitate to it. Why are puzzles so appealing? What value do they offer to the learning process? You will want to read Barbara White’s informative article, Are Jigsaw Puzzles Educational. White concludes that jigsaw puzzles are educational when they are included as part of the learning objective. Solving different kinds of puzzles can help students to visualize and understand concepts, learn vocabulary, and build problem solving skills. Allowing students to create puzzles reinforces their knowledge of the subject. See the side bar for corresponding academic content standards. The Websites below contain interactive puzzles many of which can be completed online.

Puzzle History

Elliott Avedon Museum & Archive of Games: Puzzles

Learn about the history of puzzles from experts and curators who have assembled this collection at the University of Waterloo. Anne Williams, a well known authority on jigsaw puzzles, presents over three centuries of information about them. Language puzzles cover crosswords and cryptograms from the twentieth century. Instructions are provided for the logic classification that includes mathematical and optical puzzles. Rounding out the museum’s archive are mechanical and manipulative puzzles with commentary by Jerry Slocum. This site is a great starting point in the study of puzzles.

Fact Monster: History of the Crossword Puzzle

Did you know that the first crossword puzzle was published in 1913? Can you name the newspaper in which it appeared? What is a cryptic puzzle? The answers to these questions and more are included in this interesting article from the Fact Monster.

History of Jigsaw Puzzles

Browse over 3000 puzzles by makers, artists, categories, and countries. Representative examples are displayed with color illustrations. If you have questions such as how to frame a puzzle, click on Q&A for detailed information. This site is geared to the collector, but the images are worth the visit.

Puzzles for Learning

AIMS Education Foundation

Solve a variety of interesting problems to encourage thinking and illustrating that math can be fun. Sponsored by the Aims Educational Foundation.

The Big Picture

In this engaging activity, students put together a series of jigsaw puzzle pictures gathered from the American Memory collections at the Library of Congress. After finishing each picture activity, students are quizzed on what they learned. When the entire series of pictures is completed, students are invited to discover the “Big Picture.”

The Kidz Page

Play jigsaw puzzles online ranging from six to forty pieces. The puzzles are arranged into categories with a variety of themes and pictures. Put the puzzles together and identify the bugs and slugs, flowers, fish, birds, and animals. Many of the puzzles allow the user to select the number of puzzle pieces desired to design the picture.

Iknowthat

Visit the workshop gallery for a multitude of puzzles and problems that are provided to reinforce skills in mathematics, social studies, science, reading, language arts, and the arts. Topics include creating your own weather, problem solving, word searches, and learning about geography through interactive maps. Not only do students learn to locate the states, they learn fun facts about the states that they can read or have read to them. This a great site for differentiated learning.

Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles

Using Java applets, Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles puts theory into practice. All sorts of mathematical questions are explored beginning with a hypothesis or premise followed by an actual problem or model to solve.

Mathpuzzle

Hundreds of articles and puzzles have been collected through this Weblog moderated by Ed Pegg Jr. He encourages readers to send in puzzles for posting. The site features advanced mathematical problems from mazes to geometric shapes. This site will test the math skills of everyone.

Mrs. Glosser's Math Goodies

Cross word puzzles and word searches are included on a variety of math topics. Puzzles may be downloaded or printed as long as copyright information is retained.

Puzzlemaker

Create puzzles and games for flyers, newsletters, or the classroom. Choose from 11 different types of puzzles with step-by-step instructions for adding content. Save time by using the ready-made words lists from Discovery Channel or cut and paste your own. You can print or save your puzzle online once you have signed up for a free account. Puzzlemaker is easy to use for teachers and students.

Tangram Puzzles (NCTM)

Challenge students to problem solve by having them use geometrical shapes to fill an outline. Once they have accomplished this task and understand the concepts associated with it, engage them in more complex problems using tangram pieces to form given polygons.

Puzzle Generators

Discovery School's Puzzlemaker

Create puzzles and games for flyers, newsletters, or the classroom. Choose from 11 different types of puzzles with step-by-step instructions for adding content. Save time by using the ready-made words lists from Discovery Channel or cut and paste your own. You can print or save your puzzle online once you have signed up for a free account. Puzzlemaker is easy to use for teachers and students.

Glencoe Vocabulary Puzzlemaker

Download the Glencoe puzzlemaker software that corresponds with your science textbook. Install it on your PC or Mac and you are ready to create crosswords, jumbles or word searches in a few clicks. The vocabulary words and definitions for each chapter are included. You can edit, save, and print. This is a handy tool for any science teacher.

Jigsaw Puzzle Lite

Jigsaw Puzzle Lite, a freeware program for Windows, has many great features. One of them is the ability to create puzzles from your own photographs. Social Studies teachers can import primary source images of important events. Art teachers can create puzzles from masterpieces. Students can create puzzles for a project in any subject area.

The Jigzone

Decipher jigsaw puzzles online. Select a level of difficulty from 6 pieces to 247 pieces for each puzzle. Upload photos and create your own jigsaw puzzles. Share puzzles with friends and receive the puzzle of the day via email.

Originally Published Jan/Feb 2006

Updated March 12, 2015
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