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Equation Rotation Puzzle

This Equation Rotation Puzzle post has been in the works for quite a long time. I ran across this puzzle several years ago in Puzzle Box Volume 2, one of three amazing volumes of puzzles put together by the Grabarchuk family. I can’t say enough good things about these books.

equation rotation puzzle

If you take a look at my Puzzles Page, so many of those puzzles are originally from these books.

Puzzle Box Volumes 1-3 by the Grabarchuk Family

The equation rotation puzzle was created by Erich Friedman. I highly recommend checking out his excellent website which is chock-full of tons of free puzzles. It involves eight strips that include numbers and various math symbols.

The task of the equation rotation puzzle is to rotate and rearrange these eight strips so that four valid equations appear across the four rows. In each equation, operations should be performed from left to right.

Equation Rotation Puzzle

I printed the eight strips on 11 x 17 cardstock. And, that’s actually the reason why this puzzle and blog post have taken so long to get completed and end up here on my blog. I originally typed this puzzle up back in 2018.

Life got crazy. I was pregnant that entire school year. Last year, I went to print the puzzle, and my school’s copy machine malfunctioned and didn’t want to print this particular file. I couldn’t print it at home because I just have a regular laser printer that isn’t capable of printing on 11 x 17 cardstock.

This year my school got a new copier, so I decided to see if the new printer would play nice with the file of this puzzle. It worked, and that’s the story of how it took over two years to go from a file on my computer to a puzzle ready to hand on my dry erase board.

Equation Rotation Puzzle

I placed magnets (thank you Amazon for selling bulk magnets!) on the back of each strip so that students can easily manipulate the pieces as they attempt to solve the puzzle.

Of course, I’m sure you’re aware that we are currently in the midst of a pandemic (and my students are actually all learning from home at the moment), so I’m not sure when I’ll actually get to use this magnetic version with students.

But, I’m so relieved to finally mark this puzzle off my to do list where it’s been living for the last two years.

Equation Rotation Puzzle

The equation rotation puzzle was a fun puzzle to tackle myself. I did force myself to sit down and solve it to make sure it could be done before posting it here on the blog.

I actually had to break out pen and paper for a bit to try and organize my thinking. It was interesting to thing about what sort of strips had to come first/last/etc.

Free Download of Equation Rotation Puzzle

I have designed the strips for the equation rotation puzzle to print on 11 x 17 paper and the instructions to print on 8.5 x 11 paper. You can print the strips on smaller paper, but you will need to scale the PDF down.

Equation Rotation Instructions (PDF) (2313 downloads )

Equation Rotation Strips (PDF) (2242 downloads )

Equation Rotation (Editable Publisher Files ZIP) (1122 downloads )

Looking for more puzzles like this? Alan Parr has created his own Equation Rotation Puzzle that he has shared on his blog.

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.

Lacey Friesen

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

I have been working on this forever!!!!!


Monday 18th of January 2021

Is there an answer sheet for this?

Sarah Carter

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I try to not post answer keys online. Sorry!

Six Strips | established1962

Friday 20th of November 2020

[…] she credited to Erich Friedman. My feeling was the version she posted, which had eight strips ( ), was a bit too fierce for me to use as a starter, but might have a part to play later […]

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