The premise of the puzzle is quite simple. Form the longest chain possible by moving horizontally or vertically from one number to an increasing number.
Here are Frank Tapson’s instructions:
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.
My students got really into this activity! As students finished their first chains, they called out the scores to the class. When someone realized their score was higher/lower than their peers, there were corresponding shouts of excitement and frustration.
I think this is a fitting task for practicing problem solving strategies with students. Some students would erase their path and start over entirely from scratch if they messed up. Other students would just back up a few steps and test if continuing their path in another direction would result in a larger score.
I got MOST excited when one of my students suggested we should find the highest value on the game board and work backwards towards 1 since that would surely give us the highest score possible.
The student who took that route eventually decided it was impossible to make a route between the lowest number on the board and the highest board. I haven’t played around with it enough to know if that is indeed true.
Some students in another class saw these puzzles setting on my podium, and they begged to take one with them. Of course you can take a math-y puzzle with you!
As I was writing this post, I made an exciting discovery. Remember the giant number line poster I have in my classroom?
Digital Version of How Far Can You Climb
Kathy Henderson has created a digital version of How Far Can You Climb in Desmos Activity Builder.
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 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.