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A Puzzle a Day Provides Practice That Pays

Puzzles exercise students' critical thinking skills while providing needed practice in math, spelling, and other areas of the curriculum. Why not introduce a puzzle a day? Puzzles make great "bellringer" activities. A puzzle a day provides practice that pays! Included: A year of puzzles!

Puzzles are brain food! In the lessons below, Education World offers a "puzzle-a-day" plan -- with a full school year of puzzles for you to use with your students. The plan calls for introducing the following daily puzzles:

  • Monday: Seven-Letter Scrabble® Spell-Off
  • Tuesday: Operation: Math
  • Wednesday: Anagram Family Time
  • Thursday: It All Adds Up
  • Friday: Take-Your-Pick Puzzle

Besides being fun, these puzzle activities are full of educational content. They help exercise students' critical thinking skills, while developing and reinforcing math and language arts skills.

Below, you will find a yearlong resource for a daily puzzle time. You might plan a puzzle break for the same time every day. Puzzles also make great "bellringer" activities; they are an excellent tool for quieting students, giving them something to focus on when they arrive in the morning or come in after recess all wound up. Used in that way, the puzzles make a good segue to more serious learning.

You might want to chart student progress on the puzzles; because the skills required for this week of puzzles are so varied, every student is sure to shine on at least one day of the week.


This week, Education World provides five puzzles. Click each of the five puzzle headlines below for a complete teaching resource. All the puzzles below are appropriate for all grades. Each puzzle plan includes a year of weekly puzzles appropriate for some grade levels and ideas for adapting the puzzle for other levels.


Go Figure

Be sure to check out our "Go Figure" archive of puzzles. Use these math-based puzzles, problems, and brainteasers as icebreakers, transition fillers, and ready-made math challenges -- to help answer the age-old kids' question: "Why do we need to learn Math?" Click here to go to our Go Figure puzzle archive

Seven-Letter Scrabble Spell-Off
How many words can students create with seven Scrabble® letters?

Operation: Math
Given a series of numbers and an answer, students figure out which math operations must be performed.

Anagram Family Time
In this puzzling activity, students unscramble four anagrams and figure out what the four words have in common.

It All Adds Up
Students exercise addition and thinking skills with number puzzles.

Take-Your-Pick Puzzle
Pick and choose from a wide range of ready-to-use online puzzles.

More Puzzling Resources

Kids' Place Brain Teasers
Logic puzzles are great fun! We love this resource from Houghton-Mifflin's Education Place. It offers weekly logic puzzles at three different levels: Grades 3-4, Grades 5-6, and Grades 7-8. Click the "Archive" button to pick from past puzzles.

Word Scramble Creator
Students love word search puzzles, and we love this Word Scramble Creator because it's so flexible. Teachers can decide how small or large a puzzle to create. Primary-level teachers can create puzzles that include only horizontal and vertical words. Teachers of older students have the option of including diagonals, or of creating puzzles with words spelled left to right or right to left. Create a word search puzzle from the week's spelling words, new vocabulary words introduced during the week, review words from a current unit or let students create their own word searches to exchange.

Brain Food's Lateral Thinking Puzzles
Here is a library of more than 50 lateral thinking puzzles. Lateral thinking puzzles are an "acquired taste." Students will get better at solving these puzzles as they do more and more of them. They will really learn to exercise their brains! Lateral thinking puzzles work best when students work in teams or small groups to solve them.

New York Times Learning Network Crossword Puzzle Archive
This archive offers students in grades 6 and up puzzles on a wide variety of themes. Students might work on their own, in pairs, or in small groups to solve these puzzles. Puzzles are grouped by topics, which include American History, Civics, Fine Arts, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and more. The list is quite varied; you'll often find a weekly puzzle that relates to a current unit of study, a holiday, or a timely event.


Elementary Level:

Elementary to Middle School Level
  • AIMS Puzzle Corner
    See current puzzles, and click Past Puzzles button for many more.
  • Brain Binders
    Students think in a different way as they try paper-folding puzzles.
Middle School Level and Above