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Order of Operations Puzzles

This collection of order of operations puzzles will give your students plenty of puzzling fun while applying the order of operations to a large number of numerical expressions.

order of operations puzzles using pemdas

Each order of operations puzzle is available to download as a free PDF so you can easily implement the puzzle in your upper elementary, middle school, or high school mathematics classroom!

Order of Operations (PEMDAS) Puzzles

These order of operations puzzles provide you with the numbers and the final value. You must add mathematical operations and parentheses as necessary so each expression evaluates to the correct value when evaluated according to the order of operations.

Make 6 Puzzle

Make Six Puzzle Number Challenge Printed on Sheet of Paper.

In the Make 6 Puzzle, students must use their knowledge of the order of operations to complete eight different expressions that all evaluate to 6.

This Make Six Puzzle can look almost impossible at first, but I am always amazed at the solutions students come up with to solve this puzzle. Students are shocked, too!

Missing Parentheses Puzzle

missing parentheses order of operations activity

This missing parentheses task will put your students’ order of operations skills to the test! Insert the missing parentheses into each equation to make it true when evaluated according to the order of operations.

This PEMDAS puzzle is harder than it may look at first. Some teachers even have trouble finding some of the solutions.

20 x 9 Challenge

20x9 challenge

In this 20 x 9 Challenge, students must apply the order of operations to create nine expressions with each evaluate to 20.

5-4-3-2-1 Challenge

5-4-3-2-1 Challenge

This 5-4-3-2-1 Challenge was one of the first order of operations puzzles that I ever used with my students.

This puzzle is slightly different in that the digits 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 have to stay in that order in each expression. As a result, some solutions may not be possible. How many expressions from 1 to 40 can you find?

Make 30 Puzzles

make 30 puzzle hanging on dry erase board.

This collection of Make 30 Puzzles from Erich Friedman will let you give your students lots of practice with PEMDAS throughout the school year.

You can easily put up a new order of operations challenge each day or each week for students to tackle.

One Incorrect Order of Operations Puzzle

one incorrect activity for order of operations

In this “One Incorrect” activity, students are given eight numerical expressions. Seven of the expressions simplify to -13 when evaluated according to the order of operations. 1 of them doesn’t.

How many problems will your students have to work to find the one that doesn’t?

Plus Times Puzzles

screenshot of plus times puzzle on laptop screen 

These expressions are missing a plus sign and a multiplication symbol. Sounds simple, right? It turns out they can be quite tricky.

Your students will have to really think about the order of operations while solving theses!

Simple Sums Puzzle

simple sums puzzle

In this Simple Sums Puzzle, insert addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and parentheses between the provided numbers on the left of the equations to make each equation correct.

Concatenation is allowed!

Four Fours Challenge

four playing cards showing four fours with text "four fours activity" 

The Four Fours challenge is the first order of operations puzzle that I was ever introduced to. It is a classic for a reason!

How many of the numbers from 1 to 100 can you create using exactly four fours?

Looking for a slightly easier version of the Four Fours Puzzle? Check out the Fours Challenge!

Twos to Nines Challenge

twos to nines number challenges

These Twos to Nines Number Challenges make the perfect first week of school activity. I love using these to see if my new students remember what the order of operations is at the beginning of the school year. I just walk around the room and eavesdrop on their conversations about PEMDAS.

If it’s too late in the school year to think about a first week of school activity, I have also turned these into individual printable number challenges for each of the numbers from 2 to 9 that can be used throughout the school year. They are listed below.

Printable Number Challenges

After so many teachers had success using the Twos to Nines Challenge with their students during the first week of school, I decided to turn it into a collection of free printable order of operations puzzles that can be used throughout the entire school year.

Twos Challenge

twos challenge

Can you solve the Twos Challenge? Can you use exactly four twos and your choice of arithmetical symbols to form the target numbers?

Threes Challenge

threes challenge

Using exactly four threes, add arithmetical symbols between the threes to make each of the target numbers. You may use plus, minus, times, and divide symbols, as well as parentheses and brackets for grouping.

Fours Challenge

screenshot of fours challenge

In this simplified version of the four fours challenge, students must use exactly four fours with mathematical operations to create expressions equivalent to the 8 provided numbers.

Fives Challenge

screenshot of fives challenge puzzle 

Can you solve the Fives Challenge? Can you use exactly four fives and your choice of arithmetical symbols to form the target numbers?

Sixes Challenge

screenshot of template of sixes challenge

Using exactly four sixes, add arithmetical symbols between the threes to make each of the target numbers. You may use plus, minus, times, and divide symbols, as well as parentheses and brackets for grouping.

The sevens, eights, and nines challenge are coming soon!

Holiday-Themed Order of Operations Puzzles

I love finding ways to fit some math practice into celebrating various holidays throughout the school year. Check out these holiday-themed order of operations puzzles.

Yearly Number Challenge

2024 yearly number challenge

Ring in the new year with the yearly number challenge! How many numbers from 1 to 100 can you make using the digits in the current calendar year?

Miss using this puzzle at New Years? Guess what – you can use it for the entire rest of the school year as well!

12-25 Christmas Number Challenge

partially completed 12-25 christmas number challenge

Can you create numerical expressions for the numbers from 1 to 25 using each of the digits 1, 2, 2, and 5 exactly one time each?

This 12-25 Christmas Number Challenge is more accessible to younger students than challenges like the classic Four Fours Puzzle.

I have quite a few more Christmas math puzzles that are available to download for free as well!

3-1-4 Pi Day Number Challenge

pi day number challenge hanging on dry erase board in math classroom 

This 3-1-4 Pi Day Challenge was a HUGE hit with my students. Using each of the digits 3, 1, and 4 one time each, add your choice of mathematical symbols to make expressions equal to as many different numbers as possible.

Are you interested in more Pi Day math activities? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Celebrating Pi Day in math class!

Twosday Challenge Activity

twosday challenge number puzzle.

Twosday (2/2/22) was a big deal for math teachers. I created this Twosday Challenge to help math teachers celebrate with their students, and it was incredibly popular!

I also rebranded this same puzzle as the Twos Challenge.