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# Five-piece tangrams

These puzzles are very popular with students from kindergarten through grade 3. Having only five pieces instead of the classic seven makes them much less intimidating for many people. Students who enjoy these puzzles may be encouraged to try the classic tangrams.
Making the pieces I use craft foam because it is easy to handle and lasts very well, but if you are in a hurry, you could make them out of cardstock.

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# Streamers

Streamers has been popular with everyone from grade 4 on up. Here are the demonstration puzzles to help you get started.
To play, each student will need a set of 16 pieces: squares, triangles, circles, and rhombuses each in blue, green, orange and purple.
Here are the puzzles themselves: 1&2 , 3&4 , 5&6 , 7&8 , 9&10 , 11&12

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# Towers

This is a wonderful puzzle which requires a person to think in three dimensions. Most people seem to find it easier (and more fun) to start by working with physical pieces on a grid. I’ve introduced it to classes as young as grade 5, and to individual students younger than that.
Here are:
A description of pieces and a template for the grid The process I use to introduce Towers to a group, which you might also use to help you figure it out for yourself The step-by-step solution for the example in the introduction A set of Easy 4x4 puzzles which can be solved using the blocks A set of Medium 4x4 puzzles , which can also be solved using the blocks A set of Hard 4x4 puzzles , for which you might want to get out a pencil and eraser, although they can be solved using the blocks A set of Easy 5x5 puzzles I’ll post more 5x5 puzzles soon!

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# Magnets

Can you figure out the rules from this (mostly) solved puzzle?
Here is another solved puzzle , and here is a description of the rules together with a very easy worked example.
A great way to learn to play Magnets is to use physical pieces, as shown in the photo.
Here are:
A description of what’s needed A set of easy puzzles (and solutions ) A set of medium puzzles (and solutions ) A set of more difficult puzzles (and solutions ) If you would like examples of some useful types of logic, here is a step-by-step solution for an easy puzzle and one for a medium puzzle .

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# Set

This is a wonderful game with many variations and lots of underlying mathematical ideas. It can be played cooperatively or competitively - or both, by working together in teams to compete with other teams. Children often master the rules more quickly than do adults, which adds to their fun.
Here’s a brief outline of the way I introduce the game to people from about 8 years old to 80. If you would prefer a much more detailed approach, with many examples, go to page 30 of the Nov 2016 issue of The Variable .

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# Computer-related

Digital pictures Have you ever wondered how computers and all things digital handle pictures? This simplified version can be turned into an open-ended game.
Error Detection Free your inner mathemagician! Mystify your audience! Give them lots of time to try to figure out what you are doing – you may be surprised by which student does figure it out. This game is based on one method that computers check whether transmitted information might have errors.

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# Futoshiki

Can you figure out the rules from this solved puzzle?
Getting started : check to see whether you understood the rules and see a partial solution to a puzzle Classroom demonstration for teachers Futoshiki I - V puzzles to download Find many more at BrainBashers and Simon Tatham’s portable puzzles .

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# Domino bingo

Everyone seems to like bingo! Here are some variations that use dominoes. The game itself is appealing, gives students practice with addition and subtraction, and can form a good introduction to probability.
The grids come in three sizes, using 9, 16, and 25 dominoes respectively. They are designed for 1"x2" dominoes. You can make your own from the given template using construction paper or plastic foam.
I’ve played this with students as young as grade 2.

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# Pentominoes

Pentominoes have been around as puzzles for over 100 years, although they didn’t get the name “pentominoes” until 1953.
Each pentomino is made of 5 squares that are attached to each other on at least one side. Try to figure out what they must look like, then check to see you have all 12 pentominoes. They are named after the letter they most look like. Here is the set with their names .

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# Geometry

Geometry is a huge part of mathematics, although it often gets passed over in the school curriculum. Here are some great games and puzzles that help build geometric intuition. Some support more formal mathematical study as well.
Pentominoes
Make two and three dimensional shapes from drinking straws. The three-dimensional shapes are particularly eye-catching. (Small hands will require some help with those.) You can also create towers using the straws - the most stable are built from triangles.