I have recently been investigating the use of number puzzles in the Mathematics classroom. As a puzzle solver, I find them both relaxing and motivating. To reach that final solution gives the solver a clear sense of purpose and a sense of satisfaction when the goal is achieved.

Carefully chosen puzzles can also help students consolidate their arithmetic and problem solving skills. For example Sudoku puzzles do not require any arithmetic while Ken-Ken or Kakuro do.

How the puzzles are used is also important. With Kakuro for example, I have scrounged some number tiles from other games to turn it in to a hands on puzzle. This makes it much more accessible to novice solvers who can use a “trial and error” approach. A partly solved Kakuro puzzle with tiles is shown in the image below:

An excellent selection of Kakuro puzzles may be downloaded in PDF format from krazydad or akidsmath. In my new compilation – PUZZLE MATH – I have included the following types of puzzle:

- ADDITION SQUARES
- ALFAKODO
- CALCUDOKU
- COLOUR ME
- CROSSFIGURE
- CROSSNUMBER
- FRACTION SQUARE
- JOIN THE DOTS
- KAKURO
- LOGIC PROBLEMS
- MAGIC SQUARES
- MENTAL MATHS
- MINUTE CHALLENGE
- MONEY MATHS
- NUMBERS
- NUMBER MAZES
- NUMBER PYRAMIDS
- RECTANGLES
- MIXED PUZZLES [click here for sample]

Do arithmetic type puzzles have a place in the Mathematics classroom? What do you think?

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## About webmaths

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.