Helping our students to grow through productive struggle is often a challenge for us. One way to consider as you work to build your students' problem solving skills is through the use of puzzles. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Yes--it can be as simple as having a

**jigsaw puzzle**in the back of your classroom. The visual acuity needed to solve jigsaw puzzles is important for students to build, and who doesn't love to finish a jigsaw puzzle? Oftentimes, students do not have this opportunity at home, so having one set up in your classroom could help them to develop a new skill or hobby.

Besides jigsaw puzzles,

**tangram puzzles**and

**pattern block puzzles**also help students to build visual and geometric skills. Allowing students time to explore with tangrams and pattern blocks is important, too, and it allows them to find the creativity in math as well as in themselves. You can find other resources to help with tangrams in this post as well.

**Kenken puzzles**are an awesome tool to help build logic, fact fluency and number sense in all students. The website also has an education portion, and you can sign up to have new sets of these puzzles sent to you weekly. These puzzles are one of my favorites, but you do need to take a little time being sure your students understand how to do them and reminding them to explain how they know where numbers go in the puzzle. Too often, students will guess where numbers go. This method will work for a short time, but as the puzzles become more difficult, guessing will not lead to success. While Kenkens have some similarities to Sudoku, I think they are better in the classroom because of the decomposition of numbers that is involved. Many students are familiar with

**Sudokus,**and they are a great type of logic puzzle that can be easily found. More information about Kenkens can be found here.

The website Math Pickle also has a

**large puzzle bank**for you to choose from. This site offers students the opportunity to play with their work in a way that allows them to better develop math concepts.

**These booklets**from the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival also allow students an opportunity to persevere through problem solving in a fun way. Although developed for a building-wide math night, many of the puzzles could be used in the classroom.

Let students decide how they want to do their puzzles. Sometimes students prefer to solve them alone. Others need to talk it over and think it through with a classmate. Neither way is wrong. Let students build their puzzle-solving skills in the way that feels best to them!

**Math**Sometimes, we get so caught up in teaching a curriculum or a standard, that we forget these important pieces of math. There are so many good puzzles and problems out there for students; this is not even the tip off of the iceberg. In what ways can you work to incorporate some of these ideas/resources into your classroom. How can you help your students to not only become more persevering, but to ENJOY doing math?

__is__fun. It__is__puzzles. It__is__visual. It__is__cooperative.