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Color Rectangle Puzzle

I’m hoping that this Color Rectangle Puzzle will delight many puzzle solvers for years to come. One of the very first puzzles I ever put out on my first ever puzzle table back in 2017 was Donald Knuth’s Color Square Puzzle.

This puzzle is very similar, but instead of forming a square you are forming a rectangle.

Color Rectangle Puzzle

Arrange the twelve colored pieces into the rectangle below so that no pieces of the same color touch each other, not even at corners. You can rotate pieces and flip them over, but you can not allow any of the pieces to overlap.

Color Rectangle Puzzle

In 2018, I ran across the Color Rectangle puzzle. I typed it up, but in the craziness of teaching while pregnant followed by teaching while parenting a young baby followed by teaching while in a pandemic I never actually ended up printing out the puzzle.

I finally got around to printing it this year during our back-to-school prep days when I was printing a few other new resources for my classroom.

The Color Rectangle Puzzle was created by Donald Knuth, and it was featured in one of the puzzle books that got me addicted to using puzzles in my classroom with students: Puzzle Box, Volume 3.

Color Rectangle Puzzle

The printable file will actually contain enough pieces for TWO puzzles.

Color Rectangle Puzzle

Free Download of Color Rectangle Puzzle

Previously, there was a major error in the downloadable file I shared. It has now been corrected. I apologize for any confusion/frustration this caused!

Color Rectangle Puzzle – 8.5 x 11 (PDF – ZIP) (632 downloads)

Want more puzzles? Check out my entire collection of free printable puzzles!

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not share solutions to the puzzles I feature on my website because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are not 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 with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.


Monday 7th of March 2022

This is still wrong. It's not the same as the puzzle in the book you reference, and this one is unsolvable.

Josh L

Thursday 17th of February 2022

this is so hard! Show Me the answer!!


Friday 22nd of October 2021

We are really struggling with this one.


Monday 22nd of November 2021

My students struggled too! Great challenge before Thanksgiving!


Wednesday 1st of September 2021

Can you show us the answer? We are having a very hard time figuring it out and I'd like to give my kids a hint.

Sarah Carter

Wednesday 1st of September 2021

There's actually a mistake in the pieces - one of the squares is missing. I had to take down the file once I found out, but I haven't had a chance to fix it yet with all the back to school craziness. Hopefully I will get it fixed this weekend. I sent you an email with more details!

Jesse Kalinsky

Thursday 26th of August 2021

Are the pieces supposed to fit within the rectangle and on the grid? I printed out the 8.5x11 one and it didn't seem to fit.

Sarah Carter

Monday 30th of August 2021

Hi Jesse. They are supposed to fit, but there was an error when I made the file. I have removed the download, and I am in the process of correcting it. Sorry for the confusion. I will update the post when I have the new files available.