Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Interactive Puzzles


The resources in this collection are challenging interactive puzzles for use on the computer or interactive whiteboard. The collection houses numerical, spatial and logic puzzles. Several puzzles make connections with science and other STEM topics. Some spatial puzzles involve working with shapes and some with transformations. The numerical puzzles not only develop reasoning skills but also provide repeated practice in basic arithmetic. Several resources suggest reasons for teaching with puzzles and strategies for introducing them into the classroom.
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Created:03-02-2013 by Uncle Bob
Last Post03-02-2013by Uncle Bob
ResourceTitle/DescriptionGrade Level

This interactive applet reinforces students' knowledge of the properties of rectangles and gives them a game in which to form and test hypotheses. In a 5x5 grid in which a rectangle has been hidden, students try to fix the location with the fewest number of probes (Note: press 'Start' to hide a different rectangle). Ideas for implementation, extension and support are included along with printable sheets and video clips of classroom testing.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This interactive applet contains four puzzles which develop fluency with addition facts and foster logical reasoning. Each puzzle provides a shape with blanks along its sides and diagonals. The user must fill in the blanks with the numbers provided to reach the same target sum along each side/diagonal.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This interactive Java applet gives students practice solving problems related to visualization and analysis of motion along a path. Students use rotational transformations to construct a path through a maze that meets a variety of constraints such as minimum length. Some mazes have multiple solutions. There are five challenges available.
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+

This article provides teachers with justifications and implementation suggestions for using puzzles in their teaching. Puzzles provide real problem solving experiences, plenty of skill practice, and form helpful habits of mind, among other benefits. The article also provides links to an article about puzzles and examples of some common puzzle types.
2, 3, 4, 5

This interactive Flash applet simulates the traditional frog jumping puzzle, which develops logical reasoning and problem solving strategies. The goal is to swap the green and blue fogs to the opposite sides in as few moves as possible –– and to discover a rule for the minimum number of moves necessary based on the starting number of frogs. This version allows the user to adjust the numbers of frogs independently from one to five.

KenKen is a puzzle game that helps students develop whole number calculation skills, logical thinking and perseverance. Users complete the interactive grid with the digits 1-4 (or 1-6) so that each digit appears exactly once in each row or column, while also forming a target number using a specific operation. This page provides four new KenKen puzzles daily with a range of difficulty. Each puzzle includes instructions, rules, and a print option.

This interactive applet affords students the opportunity to work systematically in making and testing hypotheses. Learners receive points by choosing 13 spots on a 5x5 grid. They must figure out the scoring system in order to maximize their scores. Ideas for implementation, extension and support are included along with a printable sheet of grids.

This interactive Flash applet helps students develop fluency with addition, subtraction, doubling and halving. The applet presents a starting number, a target number, and four choices of operations (double, halve, add 7, subtract 3). The goal is to arrive at the target in as few steps as possible. [This is similar to The Near Doubles Machine but with different parameters.]
2, 3, 4, 5

This interactive Java applet develops logical reasoning skills and fluency with two-digit addition. The game board consists of a ring of seven overlapping circles, each with 3 regions. Numbers are provided in five regions. The player drags 9 other numbers to the empty regions so that the sum of the numbers within each circle is 99.

This set of 25 interactive challenges gives students practice solving problems, using logical thinking, spatial orientation, and movement along a path. Learners must control the movements of one or more ducks to achieve an unstated goal. The music and sound effects add to the realism.
2, 3, 4, 5

This interactive jigsaw game gives students the opportunity to analyze and reason abstractly by combining familiar and irregular shapes to complete an irregular composite puzzle. Students must study the five tasks and carefully plan the use of component shapes. Points are awarded, but scores are reduced for using extraneous pieces.
3, 4, 5, 6+

In this online version of the popular card game, students combine five given number cards, using the four arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), to arrive at a target number. This version uses the numbers 1–10 only. Users may ask for a hint or view a possible solution, although there are often multiple solutions.

This interactive Flash game gives students an opportunity to apply what they've learned about divisors and remainders from the Remainders resource (cataloged separately). The computer chooses a secret number between 1 and 100. Each time the user selects a divisor, the applet reveals the resulting remainder. The goal is to gain new information with each division and to guess the secret number with as few divisions as possible. The scoring system encourages efficiency and discourages guessing. The Reminders applet is available if needed.

This interactive applet helps students develop fluency and flexibility with numbers. At each of 6 difficulty levels the user is presented with 8 target numbers and a partial set of keys on a basic calculator (does not follow order of operations). The goal is to use the given keys to make as many of the target numbers as possible within the 3-minute time limit. Some levels include memory keys.
3, 4, 5, 6+

This interactive Java applet is a game that challenges a student to solve problems by using logic and rudimentary engineering skills. The goal in each case is to create a conveyance that gets the required amount of sugar to pour into a mug or mugs. The game has 30 stages of increasing complexity.
3, 4, 5, 6+

This interactive Java applet is a game that challenges a student to solve problems by using logic and rudimentary engineering skills. The goal in each case is to create a conveyance that gets the bear to the pot of honey, avoiding the bees. The game has 32 stages of increasing complexity.
2, 3, 4, 5, 6+

This Flash card game helps users develop mental computation skills by finding sums of 3 or 4 numbers. A student and the opponent, Okta the octopus take turns selecting cards. The first one to reach the target sum with 3 cards (in the 9‑card game) or 4 cards (in the 16‑card game) wins the game. You can choose how many cards are presented (9 or 16), what types of numbers they display (small integers through tricky decimals), and Okta's level of strategy. The game is not timed but depends on strategic planning in order to defend against Okta's moves while trying to collect a winning group of cards.

This interactive game challenges students to sequence the steps involved in virtually manufacturing a product. Students must plan an object's encounter with tools and paints to produce an exact replica of the product.
3, 4, 5, 6+

This menu page initiates an interactive tutorial that provides work in geometric shapes, transformations, tessellations and puzzles. Learners are shown the rules of assembling pentominoes, are given a virtual environment to create a set, learn of their bilateral and rotational symmetries, and solve puzzles.

This slide presentation by artist and puzzle designer Scott Kim gives reasons for the incorporation of puzzles into the math curriculum. He refers to puzzles as the "literature" of math as contrasted with the "grammar" embodied in the rules and symbols of algebra. He has an action plan for teaching with recreational math activities.