Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Puzzle Race!

One way to engage students in learning is through competition. One competition that challenges students is a puzzle race. It's also low-prep and good fun :)

The preparation:

Find an image that you want students to piece together. I have used a blank world map (like the one below) and images of historical events and places for this activity.

In addition to the image, I write questions or give instructions as part of the image. For example, underneath my world map puzzle, I type 10 instructions, among them are things like, "Label the ocean that surrounds Antarctica" or "Color Africa blue" or "Draw a compass that includes just the four cardinal directions in the Indian Ocean." For other puzzles you might consider writing questions below it that encourage students to analyze the image.

Once I have the image (including any instructions), I cut up the image into 9-20 pieces. The number of cuts made and the way you cut the pieces are ways to differentiate this activity. For instance, cutting the image into squares, as opposed to unique shapes might lead to a more challenging task.

 Here's how it works:

I put students into teams. Each team gets a piece of construction paper, 2 glue sticks, colored pencils, and the puzzle. On my signal, students begin to piece together the puzzle. As they do, they learn what the instructions or questions are. Then, they race to complete all of the tasks. The first team to complete the activity correctly wins!