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Square Sums Puzzle

The square sums puzzle is a fun twist on a magic square type puzzle. Instead of trying to get each row and column to have the same sum, the goal is to have each 2×2 square within the larger square to have the same sum. So fun!


Place the numbers 1 to 9 in the spaces of the square so that the sum of the numbers in each of the four 2×2 squares is the same. Two numbers (1 and 2) have already been placed for you.

square sums puzzle screenshot.
Number Tile Cards for Square Sums Puzzle.

If your students have trouble understanding what is meant by “each of the four 2×2 squares,” there is a diagram which highlights each of the 2×2 squares to give helpful visual.

Puzzle Source

This puzzle is from a collection of 199 different mathematical puzzles offered as a free download from IREM de Lyon. This is a top-notch puzzle resource if you speak French.

I sadly do not speak French, but I was able to use the Google Translate app to translate quite a few of the puzzle instructions in order to use them in my classroom. Other puzzles I typed up from this same resource is the U Sums Puzzle, Magic H Puzzle, Lines of 3 Puzzle, 4 x 4 Checkered Square Puzzle, Equal Sums Puzzle, and the very popular Loops Puzzle.

This specific puzzle is #25 – Sommes sur carrés.

Printing and Prepping the Puzzle

This puzzle is designed to print on letter-sized 8.5 x 11 inch paper, but you could easily scale it to print on A4 paper as well.

The number tile cards are designed to be printed on colored paper or cardstock. I like printing on Astrobrights paper to give my activities a pop of bright color.

Square Sums Puzzle partially solved.

You could also forego the number tile cards and slide the puzzle in a dry erase pocket and simply have the students write in the digits 3-9 by hand. The benefit of the tiles is that students can easily see what numbers they have and have not used yet.


dry erase pockets

I cannot imagine teaching math without my dry erase pockets! They instantly make any activity more engaging and save me countless hours at the copy machine since I can use the same class sets of copies year after year.

Here are my current go-to recommendations:

  • 8.5 x 11 Inch Dry Erase Pockets from Puroma
  • 11 x 17 Inch Dry Erase Pockets from C-Line Products
  • Expo Dry Erase Markers

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.

More Number Puzzles