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Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

This Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle was a huge hit with my students last semester. I appreciate the simplicity of this puzzle. Even though there are only four different puzzle pieces, this is actually four different puzzles in one!

little ones and big ones puzzle

Select any of the four shapes (say, the rectangle). Try to fit your four pieces together to make this shape, but twice as large. The pieces may be flipped over but not overlapped. Do this for each of the four shapes.

Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

I discovered this Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle (called Little-Uns and Big-Uns) in a 1971 puzzle book called Nut-Crackers: Puzzles and Games to Boggle the Mind by John Jaworski.

Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

I wanted to make a magnetic version of the puzzle for my students to manipulate, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it since the puzzle pieces were allowed to be flipped over.

I ended up printing the four pieces and their mirror images so I could place a disc magnet in between the two layers.

Two layers of pieces with magnets in between

It wasn’t exactly perfect, but I was able to attach the two laminated layers of paper using an adhesive roller.

puzzle piece with adhesive roller

Since the puzzle instructions suggested that students start out by building the rectangle, that’s where most of my students started. I had quite a few students solve the rectangle puzzle.

solved example of Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

Some students went on to tackle the other three puzzles as well.

I wonder if students might benefit from seeing each of the four shapes that need to be created drawn out in some way.

If you want a smaller, individual sized puzzle that doesn’t use magnets, I’ve got you covered!

I printed the four shapes with their mirror images already attached.

paper printed with Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

All you will need to do is cut out the four shapes around the outside edge.

cut out pieces for Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

Then, fold on the bold line of symmetry.

Cut and Folded Pieces for Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

Then, the four pieces can be glued together to form double-sided puzzle pieces.

Folded Pieces with Glue Stick

You could then choose to laminate them at this stage or leave them as-is.

Little Ones and Big Ones Puzzle

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

Sara E

Tuesday 19th of April 2022

I have really enjoyed incorporating the puzzles you have created! How frequently do you have your students work on these and do you give them a certain time frame to work on them?

I teach 6th grade math and would love to include these more throughout the year to improve perseverance and collaboration. Are there certain puzzles you think would work best with integers and opposite numbers?