This blog post was originally written for the Teacher Tech with Alice Keeler Blog. Read the original blog post here.
Our children are six and eight years old. They love puzzles. And I love that they love puzzles because puzzles build many skills like perseverance while also helping us learn productive struggle. A favourite in our house are word search puzzles. The kids get great satisfaction from crossing out each word they have found with an excessive number of criss-crossed lines.
I had this idea recently to create what I call, “Number Search Puzzles.” There are many ways to make these puzzles in order to vary the difficulty level, the math level, and to target the math you and your child want to practice.
Make Ten Puzzle
One puzzle I made for the youngest child focuses on finding numbers that add to ten. Making ten is an important skill in early number sense because ten is a “friendly number” and friendly numbers make mental math easier. Watch this reel from my Instagram feed to see how I created this puzzle with pairs that sum to ten:
You can see that I purposely place pairs within the puzzle for the child to find. This is the puzzle I made for my son last week:
My son went to work right away and found many pairs. Then, he worked with his sister to find more than he had missed. I don’t keep track of how many pairs there are to find because I don’t think that is important, but you certainly could so that your child knows if they found them all.
You can make these puzzles in many different variations. Here is one I made for our oldest child using pairs to make certain products. We added a colour-coded legend, and she went to work.
Free PDF Printables
After I posted my number search puzzles on Instagram and Facebook, I received a lot of requests for a printable version of the puzzles, so I made the two puzzles above into PDF printables, which can be downloaded from my website for free.
Be Colour Friendly
I must interject here with a quick PSA: Any time you are using colours to distinguish things, please be mindful of our children with colour vision deficiency. There are colour combinations that are more difficult for some people to discern than others. A good accommodation that is easy to make is to label the colour with the corresponding word. See the legend on my product number search puzzle for an example of how to implement this and make sure your activities are colour-blind friendly.
The community in Alice Keeler’s Teacher Tech Facebook group loved these number search puzzles. The brainstorming quickly started and led to Alice K creating digital versions of both the sums and the products number search puzzles in a spreadsheet. Use the link to make a copy for yourself. You can refresh the page and get a new version of each puzzle! Feel free to edit as necessary. For example, I would label the colours with the written words in the legend.
I hope you and your kids have as much fun with these number search puzzles as we do in our home! The possibilities are endless. Try involving your kids in making the puzzles, too!
Keep spreading the math love <3