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It All Adds Up



  • Mathematics


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Students exercise addition and thinking skills with these number puzzles.


Students will

  • develop and/or reinforce addition and thinking skills.


puzzle, math, arithmetic, addition, column addition, solve, problem, thinking skills

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

This activity is the "Thursday Puzzle" -- part of a week of "puzzling activities" that comprise the Lesson Planning article A Puzzle A Day Provides Practice That Pays. This fun activity -- easily adapted to any grade -- makes a great "bellringer" activity for settling down students at the start of the school day, immediately after lunch, or as a transition after any other activity.

For this puzzling activity, students exercise their addition skills to fill in missing numbers so all columns, rows, and diagonals add up to the number in the squares along the right and bottom edges of the puzzles.

A Sample Puzzle
Education World provides you with A Year of "It All Adds Up" Puzzles -- that's 36 puzzles, one for each week of the year. Each week, draw one puzzle on a chalkboard or chart for all students to see. Students copy the puzzle and determine the numbers that belong in each empty square. All numbers should add up across, up and down, and diagonally to the numbers in the boxes at the right or bottom margins of the puzzle.

Following is a sample It All Adds Up puzzle and its solution. If this puzzle is too easy or difficult for your students, see the instructions below for adapting the "It All Adds Up" activity for your grade level.

2, 8, 5, 7
6, 4, 0, 6
0, 9, 7, 3
1, 2, 3, 1

Scoring the Puzzle
You might keep a tally of students' correct answers: Award students a point for correctly filling in all the squares so the numbers in each of four rows, four columns, and two diagonals add up to the numbers in the right and bottom margins. If the numbers add up in all ten directions, students earn 10 points. Subtract a point for each row, column, or diagonal that does not add up.

You might track students' correct It All Adds Up responses and award a prize to the student who gets the most points each month, quarter, or semester.

Adapting the "It All Adds Up" Activity for Your Grade Level
These puzzles are ideally suited for students in grades 3-8, however, the activity can be adapted for use at any grade level. You can create "It All Adds Up" number puzzles that are easier or more difficult than the 36 puzzles we have provided. Use Discovery Education's Number Blocks Puzzle Tool to create those puzzles.


You might track student performance on these weekly puzzles: You could create a chart with each student's name on it. Record the number of points each student earns out of a total of 10 points described in the Scoring section above. If you are tracking student performance on each of the five puzzle-of-the-day activities that comprise this puzzle-a-day plan, students are bound to achieve success on one or more of the different types of puzzles.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

Find more great puzzle ideas in this week's Lesson Planning article, A Puzzle A Day Provides Practice That Pays.