Archive | September, 2016

Exponents and Dollar Store Puzzles

30 Sep

Student desk during activity with question card, work sheet, and puzzle pieces.

Do you ever get tired of giving students endless practice problems from textbooks or worksheets? I do! A friend of mine that teaches remedial math shared this activity with me, and I want to share it with you all! My 8th graders love it, and I love it because they’re practicing their facts, working collaboratively, and I’m able to do a quick check to see if they’re getting correct answers.

  • I feel like this activity is really easy to explain in person, but my typed explanation might sound like this is a complicated activity. It’s not! Hopefully the pictures will help. 

Here’s the gist: Students are given a blank sheet that’s separated into 4 boxes. On a table in the front of the room I have divided puzzles and cards. Each group gets a card with some problems on it. They all solve the problems on their sheet in the box with the picture that matches the card. When they’ve decided as a group that they have the right answers, they send one person up to the table with their answers. I check their sheet. If it’s right, they get some puzzle pieces and another card. They start the next card in the corresponding box. They must send a different group member up for answer checks each time. On completing the fourth card they get the rest of the puzzle pieces. Usually the first group to complete the puzzle wins a prize.


Front table setup during the activity. The first card they get without pieces, then as they get cards right they get new cards and pieces. The last pile is the pieces they get after completeing the fourth card. 

When preparing the activity I make copies of the worksheet for each student. Then I print the problem cards on cardstock. I use a different color for each group. This helps me to keep things organized when handing out the pieces. I got 24-piece puzzles from the Dollar Store. This works perfectly because I can give them 6 pieces for each correct card (MATH!!). I got different puzzles so the pieces don’t get mixed up. The kids love the Jake and the Neverland Pirates puzzle. I don’t show them what their puzzle looks like ahead of time. That would be too easy!


Exponent Rules Cards

I usually use this activity for review. I’ve even used it in my algebra class, where each card was one problem (Like writing linear equations from two points). I typically give students 20-30 minutes depending on the problems. As groups finish they’re allowed to start on their homework.

Bonus: Here’s a link for a free download of the cards!!

Free PDF of Cards and Work Sheet

The cards here are exponent rules, but feel free to use the blank sheet to make your own questions. I’d love to hear from you if you use this in your classroom. It really easy a cheap and easy activity with minimal cutting.