I’m back today with a new puzzle, Tic Tac Total. This puzzle, unlike the Pair Ups Puzzle I shared recently, can easily be applied to the distance learning classroom.
It’s from the same excellent book Test Your Math IQ by Steve Ryan. I was able to borrow the book for free from the Internet Archive’s online lending library. I highly recommend this site for checking out various books before you commit to buying a copy!
Like I mentioned before, the thing that made this puzzle stick out to me as I browsed through the book was the fact that the puzzle could be easily adapted to digital platforms. The puzzler is given three tic-tac-toe boards which have numbers in each cell.
The goal: To find a winning tic-tac-toe on each game board. Sounds easy enough, right? One game must contain a diagonal win, one game must contain a horizontal win, and one game must contain a vertical win. Additionally, each number from 1 to 9 must be included your three winning lines. That is the tricky bit.
In a Pre-COVID world, I would have definitely utilized my class set of dry erase pockets with this puzzle. There’s something magical about putting a dry erase marker in the hand of a student and giving them a task to tackle.
If you don’t have a classroom set of dry erase pockets, you could also use heavy duty sheet protectors. But, I highly recommend investing in a classroom set of the pockets since they are so much more durable.
For example, the solution below cannot be correct because the third tic-tac-toe board needs to involve a diagonal win using the numbers 3, 5, and 8. I did set down and solve this puzzle myself, and I found the logical thinking I had to go through to be quite enjoyable. I think your students will enjoy tackling Tic Tac Total.
I can definitely see this puzzle serving as a fun intro or brain break for a Desmos Activity. Just toss the image in and have the students use the sketch tool to solve. Here’s my Desmos version of Tic Tac Total if you want to take a stab at solving the puzzle yourself!
The other platform that came to mind for digitizing this Tic Tac Total activity is Jamboard.
Want this Jamboard template? You can make a copy by clicking here.
Download a Copy of Tic Tac Total Puzzle
More interested in a PDF to print or an editable Publisher file? I’ve got you covered, too!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.