This Ant Farm Puzzle from Erhan Çubukcuoglu is a fun twist on the classic edge-matching puzzle. Can you arrange these sixteen pieces to form an ant farm which is a closed loop?
I posted this ant farm puzzle on my dry erase board this past week as our puzzle of the week. Its eye-catching design made quite a few students notice it throughout the week.
Source of Puzzle
This puzzle is the creation of Erhan Çubukcuoglu, a puzzle creator from Istanbul, Turkey. Erhan has published quite a few free printable puzzles on his blog, DIY Puzzles.
This puzzle is actually named the “Formicarium Puzzle” by its author, but I didn’t think my students would know what a formicarium was. In fact, I had to google formicarium myself to make sure that it meant ant farm as I suspected.
Erhan Çubukcuoglu actually has created two different versions of this ant farm/formicarium puzzle. Additionally, each of these two versions are available in black and white and full-color designs.
Arrange the 16 pieces to make a 4 x 4 closed loop. This is the puzzle I chose to use with my own students.
Arrange the 25 pieces to make a 5 x 5 closed loop. My students found the 4×4 puzzle to be very challenging, so I can’t imagine solving this larger version!
The puzzle creator even describes this as a “difficult puzzle.” I would definitely present this as a puzzle for students to play with – not as a puzzle that students are required to solve in a set amount of time!
Printing and Prepping the Puzzle
To make a large magnetic version of the puzzle for my classroom, I took the PDF file shared on the DIY Puzzles blog and enlarged it to print four squares to a letter-sized page.
Then, I laminated the puzzle pages and cut apart the sixteen squares.
MATH = LOVE RECOMMENDS…
A laminator is a MUST-HAVE for me as a math teacher! I spent my first six years as a teacher at a school with a broken laminator, so I had to find a way to laminate things myself.
I’ve had several laminators over the years. I currently use a Scotch laminator at home and a Swingline laminator at school.
I highly recommend splurging a bit on the actual laminator and buying the cheapest laminating pouches you can find!
I added ceramic disc magnets to the back of each piece so I could hang the puzzle pieces to my dry erase board. If you plan to have students solving the puzzle on the table or ground, the magnets are complete unnecessary.
I also printed a few copies of the 4×4 puzzle on different colors of letter-sized paper. I printed these at the puzzle’s original size instead of the enlarged puzzle pieces I made for my dry erase board.
For my puzzle of the week, I gave students the option to choose from solving the large magnetic puzzle on the dry erase board or taking one of the bags of colored puzzle pieces back to their table to solve.
I used one of the magnetic pockets I got from Charles Leonard on Amazon to display the small colored puzzles next to the large puzzle display. I seriously love these pockets. They are a classroom must-have!
I had a blast this week watching students tackle this ant farm puzzle.
So far, none of my students have been able to solve the puzzle. I’ll probably go ahead and leave the magnetic pocket with the small bags of puzzle pieces up next week as well in case any of my students want to take another stab at the puzzle.
One of my students did get quite close to solving the puzzle. How cool does this look?!?
I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.
However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.
If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.