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# Puzzles

Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About ... page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. As we weather through these wintry months, this week's sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about puzzles.

1. Blocks: A Digital Building Toy
http://www.blockcorner.com/content.html
This activity allows children to manipulate blocks on the computer screen to construct buildings without any of the classroom noise and disruption! This is not for preschoolers, though. Students must type in commands in order to make blocks, color them, and arrange them. Before having students begin on their own, look at the Official Blockcorner Quickstart Guide; the activity is not intuitive.

2. BrainBashers
http://www.brainbashers.com
BrainTicklers is a continually updated collection of puzzles, games, and optical illusions designed to make kids think. The puzzles include word problems, syllogisms, picture puzzlers, and more.

3. Fibonacci Puzzles
http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/
Personal/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibpuzzles.html

Do you want sophisticated patterns for your students to study? This site's got them: image and number puzzles based on mathematics. The puzzles are split into simpler and harder degrees of difficulty, so you can plan to use them according to the needs of your students. This is a great tie-in to the mathematics of puzzles!

4. Interactive Math
http://www.cut-the-knot.com/
This educationally sound site offers games and puzzles that cover arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, fast reckoning, mathematics as a language, proofs in mathematics, the many ways to construct a triangle -- and many teacher ideas and activities. These activities offer incentives for problem solving and developing critical thinking skills. Click on the Cut the Knot! link to see a great collection of past theorems and puzzlers to share with your students!

5. JigZone
http://www.jigzone.com/
Do your students like doing jigsaw puzzles, but you don't have the table space? JigZone allows you to complete puzzles on your computer by simply dragging and dropping pieces into place. There's everything from beginner, six-piece classic puzzles all the way up to 247-piece triangular puzzles. The pictures are photographic quality too. This is a wonderful way to encourage good mouse skills and promote eye-hand coordination on the computer!

6. Nature Puzzles and Fun
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/fun.html
PBS offers this collection of puzzles and games on animals, including a flip-over jigsaw, an animal scramble, an activity to learn to sign with Koko the gorilla, and the Himalayan hike game. A three-sided jigsaw puzzle and an interactive dogsledding activity are perfect complements to a unit on the Iditarod. Many of these games require the free Flash plugin, so be sure your computers have it installed before sitting your class in front of this site.

7. Puzzability Puzzles
http://www.puzzability.com/puzzles/index.html
Here's a regularly updated collection of interactive puzzles that will surely challenge your students. Java-enabled puzzles include Rhyme Spree, Writer's Blocks, The Old Switcheroo, Two-Timers, Altered Egos, and Holding Company, covering everything from optical puzzles to crosswords and word finds. You'll find new puzzles posted every day!

8. Puzzlemaker
http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/
This classic site, now part of DiscoverySchool.com, allows teachers to create their own word searches, crosswords, cryptograms, word mazes, math squares, and more. A vocabulary section helps you create appropriate puzzles, and you can Save Your Puzzle in Custom Classroom for future use! Be sure to check out the Moon Landing Maze while you're there.

9. Rubik's Cube Online
http://www.rubiks.com/index.cfm
Isn't it amazing what new Web technologies allow us to accomplish online? At this site, you can manipulate a virtual Rubik's cube and use your mouse to slowly solve the multi-dimensional puzzle. You can drag one of the corner cubes with your mouse to turn a face or drag across the center cubes to turn the whole cube. Just click Scramble to get started!

10. LearningPlanet Easy Crosswords
http://www.learningplanet.com/act/puzzles.htm
Students can complete these online crossword puzzles by simply using the mouse and keyboard. The puzzles require the Shockwave plugin to take advantage of this site, and the effects you get for your trouble are well worth it. Several topics are available, including Antonyms & Synonyms, Animals, Spring, and USA.

Walter McKenzie
Education World®