Is it just me or do the last few weeks of school go by SO fast?! I’ve learned over the years that it’s better to keep my students engaged and on a structured schedule after we finish standardized testing instead of allowing them more freedom. One of the ways I like to keep them engaged is with these summer math puzzles. The theme reminds kids of the fun things to come and I get the comfort of knowing they’re on task and engaged in something great while we all count down till the end of the school year. This blog post shares my 5 favorite ways to use these puzzles.
Last year, I used these summer math puzzles as a countdown to the end of the year. There are 6 different puzzle types. So, for each of the last 6 days, my class put together a set of puzzles each day. Everyone was so excited to see what the theme and math skill were for our “Puzzle Countdown”. This was incredibly simple to do and yet, very engaging for my third graders (and our kindergarten book buddies we did it with!).
I love math centers and use them 3-4 times a week in my classroom. I love to put these summer math puzzles in one of my centers as a spiral review. The kiddos normally work together in partners and are able to finish several sets while also practicing several skills. I love that they are self-checking. I just print them on colored paper, laminate, cut, and I have puzzles that can be used for years again and again.
I can’t believe I’m going to admit this next one but being honest is normally a good thing. A few years ago, I was struggling with what I wanted my students to do after our end of the year testing was over. I didn’t think my kids needed that structure anymore and just wanted them to have fun. I quickly realized how wrong I was and scrambled to put some educational ideas together for them. So, I decided off the top of my head to grab these math puzzles, mix them all up in one bag, and then throw them up in the air like confetti. My class looked at me like I was crazy. I then told them the rules as they saw all 144 pieces laying around the room in disarray. First, they had to work together to put all of the puzzles. Second, they only had 30 minutes to do so. I got some GREAT collaboration and communication out of that riding-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-activity and it’s something I definitely want to try again.
A lot of days, I like to start our math block with a quick whole-group math activity. Using these summer math puzzles as a short game works perfectly. Here’s how it works. I’ll give each table a different math puzzle and they have to work together to build it as quickly as possible. It gets the kids excited, collaborating, and practicing those skills from earlier in the year.
Finally, sometimes I like to have kids take these home with them over summer break. I do what I can to prevent the summer slide and a lot of parents ask for math activities they can do with their child over the break. Instead of sending a packet of worksheets, I normally send these puzzles so students are getting a great review and (hopefully) are practicing their skills so they don’t lose that knowledge over the summer holiday.
You may also like this blog post: Back to School Math Puzzles