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Combining Like Terms Maze Activity

In this combining like terms maze, use your knowledge of combining like terms to make your way from the top of the maze to the bottom of the maze by only traveling through equivalent expressions.

combining like terms maze

Activity Source

I found a scanned copy of this combining like terms maze uploaded on a Montana public school website. It was on page 12 of the PDF, and it looks like it is from some sort of enrichment workbook or resource.

I could not figure out exactly which resource it is from. If you recognize this and know the source, please let me know so I can share it with others!

Maze Instructions

Find your way from the top of the maze to the bottom of the maze by moving to a square containing an expression that is equivalent to the expression in the first square and the last square.

Combining Like Terms Puzzle

How I Used This Activity with my Algebra 1 Students

The PDF of the combining like terms maze was a bit messy looking, so I did some cutting and pasting to pretty it up.  

Combining like terms should be a review topic for my Algebra 1 students, so I assigned them to work through this maze in their groups.

Combining Like Terms Maze in Dry Erae Pocket

I printed a class set of the combining like terms maze and slid them into one of my favorite tools – dry erase pockets!  


dry erase pockets

I cannot imagine teaching math without my dry erase pockets! They instantly make any activity more engaging and save me countless hours at the copy machine since I can use the same class sets of copies year after year.

Here are my current go-to recommendations:

If you don’t have a classroom set of dry erase pockets, you could also use heavy duty sheet protectors. But, I highly recommend investing in a classroom set of the pockets since they are so much more durable.

After passing these out to my class, I instructed them to read the instructions before starting.  They obviously didn’t listen to me because I was soon being asked “Do we start from the top or the bottom?”  

Ugh.  I’m five years into this teaching thing, and I still don’t know how to get my students to read the instructions.

Students working on combining like terms puzzle in dry erase pockets in high school math classroom

I thought this combining like maze would be a BREEZE for my students to complete, but they found it really tricky.  

In retrospect, we should have done a lot more practice problems on our dry erase boards BEFORE I gave them this maze!  

What I do love about this maze is that all of the problems are made to look like they could possibly simplify to 3m^2 + n.  So, students really have to think critically!

Student working on combining like terms maze in dry erase pocket in algebra classroom

Puzzle Solutions

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 with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.

Francisco Francisco De Los Santos Vasquz

Friday 27th of August 2021

where is the answer key?

Sarah Carter

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Sending an email!


Tuesday 20th of August 2019

Hi!, I think that it's great that you want to do this, but what about the answer key?


Monday 19th of September 2016

I LOVE tantrix... I had a set at my old school... I had to leave it behind.

Question on Challenge one with the orange shapes, it says make a square with exactly one shape. Should that be some other number??? Thanks!


Monday 19th of September 2016

Once again, thank you Sarah for sharing your work with all of us.

John Golden

Sunday 18th of September 2016

I'm wondering about " In retrospect, we should have done a lot more practice problems on our dry erase boards BEFORE I gave them this maze!" It sounds like the maze raised a lot of the questions you'd want, and was more problematic this way. Would you really want to do more equipping?

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