I’m currently procrastinating on preparing a presentation I will be giving this next Wednesday at the Northeast Oklahoma Math Teachers Gathering by writing this post about the Square Pi Puzzle. Speaking of which, if you are anywhere near Northeast Oklahoma and are free on July 31st, consider yourself invited! It’s a completely free day of “for teachers, by teachers” professional development. And, it’s not too late to register!
You’ll get to hang out with not only me but the amazing @druinok (who blogs at Teaching Statistics and does so much for our #MTBoS community), Cindy Johnson (who among other things is THE inventor of Conic Cards), Rebecka Peterson (who never fails to inspire us all with her touching One Good Thing posts), Shaun Carter (who used to teach maths in Australia before he moved to America to marry me) and so many more amazing Oklahoma math teachers (plus some teachers making the trip from nearby states as well)!
I will be presenting “A Puzzling Classroom” where I will try to condense everything I’ve learned in the past three years about using puzzles in the math classroom into a 50 minute presentation while still leaving time for participants to get to try their hand at a wide variety of puzzles to get a feel for what will work in their own classroom. Whew. That was probably a run-on sentence, but I’m just too excited to go back and edit it down. I’m hoping it will be a really fun, hands-on experience.
Okay. Back to my procrastination. A few weeks ago, I stopped by my classroom to pick up some puzzles from my filing cabinet to see what I wanted to use in my upcoming presentation.
This full box doesn’t even include all the new puzzles I’ve been creating this summer that are currently living on our guest room bed.
As I started going through my box of puzzles from my classroom, I ran across some of my most used puzzles that I decided deserved an update. These were some of the very first puzzles I used in my classroom – long before I ever had a puzzle table.
Yes, I should probably get my presentation written up, but I am too eager to share some of these updated puzzles with you. Procrastination by blogging. It’s a real thing.
The first puzzle I decided to give a “makeover” is a favorite puzzle that I pull out every year for Pi Day. I originally blogged about it here. I refer to it as the Square Pi Puzzle. I found it through the website mathisfun.com
Students are given a bag of five pieces for the square pi puzzle. There are two separate challenges for students to complete. First, students are challenged to combine the five pieces to form a perfect square. Pieces may be rotated, but they may not be flipped or overlapped.
This square pi puzzle is tricky, and students often try to find unorthodox solutions.
So close yet so far away!
Once students find the square, they are then challenged to rearrange the pieces to create a pi symbol. I’ve always had to post an outline of what the pi symbol should look like on the dry erase board otherwise my students will come up with some very weird shaped pi symbols as solutions!
Usually students find this challenge a bit easier than the square.
I’ve always given the instructions for this square pi puzzle verbally. So, the first thing I decided I needed to do was type up an instruction sheet. This will let me put this puzzle out during my presentation for teachers to tackle on their own, and it will also allow me the choice to post it in my classroom as a puzzle for students to tackle on their own instead of only being able to use it as an all-class task. (Plus, students will now know exactly what the pi symbol is supposed to look like now!)
After this square pi puzzle was typed up and printed, I decided to also create a jumbo version of these pieces that I could put up on my dry erase board with magnets as my puzzle of the week during the week of Pi Day if I don’t want to use it as a whole-class activity.
Free Download of Square Pi Puzzle
The file includes the instruction sheet, a page of puzzles that are sized for individual student use, and a jumbo set of pieces that could be used on a large table, the floor, or dry erase board.
Want more ideas for Pi Day? Check out my entire post of Pi Day ideas!
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 email@example.com with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.