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Number Strips Puzzle

The Number Strips Puzzle asks: Can you rearrange the order of the seven strips so that each row contains a correct mathematical statement? Note that the strips containing operators can be inverted if necessary.

I found this number strips puzzle in Ivan Moscovich’s The Big Book of Brain Games. This book weighs several pounds and is chock-full of SO many puzzles that can be used with students! Used copies are available from Amazon for relatively cheap.

The Big Book of Brain Games by Ivan Moscovich

I typed up the number and operation strips on two different colors of paper.

Number Strips Puzzle

I printed them, laminated them, and attached disc magnets to the back of each piece. This way, students can move the pieces around on the dry erase board as they solve the puzzle.


drawing of laminator machine with text "laminating recommendations"

A laminator is a MUST-HAVE for me as a math teacher! I spent my first six years as a teacher at a school with a broken laminator, so I had to find a way to laminate things myself.

I’ve had several laminators over the years. I currently use a Scotch laminator at home and a Swingline laminator at school.

I highly recommend splurging a bit on the actual laminator and buying the cheapest laminating pouches you can find!

I use ceramic disc magnets with all of my puzzles that I buy in bulk from Amazon. They are reasonably priced and strong to hold things up without them sliding down the dry erase board.

number strips puzzle

I’m getting close to finishing up my 2nd box of 200 magnets, so to say that I love these magnets is an understatement.

Number Strips Puzzle

These are the operator strips that can be inverted if necessary in order to solve the number strips puzzle.

Number Strips Puzzle

Free Download of Number Strips Puzzle

Number Strips – Instructions (PDF) (4598 downloads )

Number Strips – Strips (PDF) (4880 downloads )

Number Strips (Editable Publisher Files ZIP) (1627 downloads )

If you like this puzzle, you might also be interested in the Equation Rotation Puzzle. You can find all of my free printable puzzles on my puzzles page!

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.


Thursday 14th of October 2021

Do you ever post or email the answers to your puzzles?

Sarah Carter

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

I do share the answers to puzzles via email to teachers. Please email me with information about where you teach. My email is mathequalslove(at)gmail(dot)com.

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