Area Maze Puzzles from prolific Japanese puzzle creator Naoki Inaba have become quite popular in the United States. This hasn’t always been the case.
I first learned about these puzzles from a tweet from Lisa Bejarano. At the time of her tweet, you could only really get your hands on a large number of area maze puzzles by ordering them from Japan.
Area Maze puzzles, also known as menseki meiro puzzles, are an original creation of Naoki Inaba. Inaba is a Japanese puzzle author who has created over 400 different types of puzzles.
If you’re a die-hard logic puzzle lover, I highly recommend purchasing a copy of Inaba’s book: The Original Area Mazes.
He has since followed this up with both a second volume of area maze puzzles and a volume geared toward kids.
So, what is an area maze puzzle?
The goal of the puzzle is quite simple: figure out the value of the question mark. One caveat: you are NOT allowed to use fractions in your solution. All of these puzzles can be solved using ONLY whole numbers.
To solve the puzzle above, you’re going to need to think outside of the boxes provided. Alex Bellos offers up this hint in his Guardian article. If we form another rectangle as shown below, we can easily find its area. After all, we know its length and width. We can also realize that the rectangle on the left and the two rectangles on the right both have the same area. If they have the same area and the same height, they must also have the same width. Isn’t that an incredibly satisfying feeling?
Want more puzzles to solve? I know I do! Here are some sources of free area maze puzzles to keep you busy while you wait on a copy of Inaba’s full book of puzzles to arrive at your doorstep.
Sources of Free Area Maze Puzzles (Menseki Meiro Puzzles)
The article in The Guardian by Alex Bellos that I referenced above has a total of 5 puzzles embedded in the article.
There is also a blog post from the New York Times that features the puzzle. This blog post links to two pdfs of puzzles that you can download here and here. And, for the record, these puzzles get quite large and complex. Don’t believe me? Just click on that last link! The bottom of the New York Times Post also includes a 3D Version!
The Waterloo Region District School Board has a page of puzzles and riddles for elementary students to tackle. They feature several area maze puzzles as well as questions and prompts to use with students as they are tackling these puzzles.
Five Thirty Eight features two of Inaba’s area maze puzzles on their website for you to try your hand at.
If you have a free account on TES, there is a free printable of area maze puzzles to use with your students.
Rose Lorenz has put some of the area maze puzzles into Desmos Activity Builder to make them easier to use with students.
I think these would make good warm-up puzzles in the classroom. They’d also be great to stick in a unit on area or volume! Or, you could use them as a sort of brain break. Stick one of these in your slides to give your students a quick challenge and break from whatever topic you are working on.
Looking for more amazing logic puzzles from Naoki Inaba to use in your classroom or to solve yourself? Check out these other puzzle posts:
Interested in just more puzzles in general? I’ve got a whole page on my blog dedicated to all things puzzles.
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 email@example.com with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.
More Printable Paper and Pencil Logic Puzzles
- Sixes Number Challenge
- 3-1-4 Pi Day Number Challenge
- Sankaku Puzzles
- Strimko Puzzles in the Classroom
- Square Sudokus
- Make It Pythagorean Puzzles
- Number Ball Puzzles by Naoki Inaba
- Hidato Puzzles
- Step Puzzles by Naoki Inaba – A Logic Puzzle for Introducing Arithmetic Sequences
- Kazu Sagashi Puzzles from Naoki Inaba
- Factor Tree Puzzles Inspired by Dr. Harold Reiter
- Strimko Logic Puzzles Review
- Tents and Trees Puzzles
- Slants Puzzles
- Angle Mazes by Naoki Inaba
- Zukei Puzzles
- Japanese Logic Puzzles for the Secondary Math Classroom
- Area Maze Puzzles from Naoki Inaba
- Masyu Puzzles
- KenKen In The Classroom
- Futoshiki Puzzles
- Hashi Puzzles
- Shikaku Puzzles
- Nonogram Puzzles
- Digit Cells Puzzle