Can I make my own linear equation jigsaw puzzle?

Converting your “less than exciting” linear equation worksheet activities to puzzles is possible with a small investment in some supplies and a slightly larger investment in time. To get started, find some sturdy, colorful cardboard, a ruler, black marker, a pair of scissors, self-adhesive lamination plastic, an elastic band, and a set of solved linear equations. Dark colored card tends to be difficult to read equations from, so avoid dark colors unless you are working with white or silver metallic markers. While I prefer working with black markers, any colored pens that create contrast with the background card color will work.

Your puzzle can take any form, but simple shapes are the easiest to work with. For beginners, I recommend a square puzzle with no more than 9 pieces. Use the ruler to mark out a square on the card, and divide the square into a table with 3 equally spaced columns and 3 equally spaced rows. If you are feeling less ambitious, start with a 2×2 table. Make sure the lines and boundaries of the puzzle are drawn in bold ink. Neatly insert an equation along a side of a cell that has an adjacent cell. The solution to this equation is filled in across the boundary line in the neighboring cell. Try not to choose equations that will generate the same solution as this may cause confusion for learners who are new to this type of puzzle building. Duplicate solutions can be intentionally incorporated into more challenging puzzles, but should be avoided when first introducing these puzzles to a class or student. Complete the puzzle with equations and solutions, laminate the card for durability, and cut the puzzle into its individual pieces. Use the elastic band to keep the puzzle pieces together.

If you are new to putting the pieces back together, or want to know how to explain the process to your students, read “How to Solve a Linear Equation Jigsaw Puzzle“.


How do I build a linear equation jigsaw puzzle?

Unlike traditional “picture” jigsaw puzzles, linear equation jigsaw puzzles are largely blank. There are seldom patterns or background images to guide you as you put the pieces together. Although traditionally rectangular, some puzzles are designed to take on unexpected shapes when completed. However, these “shaped” puzzles are not usually sold with obvious clues that will allow the puzzle builder to construct the puzzle using only the goal of a particular shape. There are no short-cuts, cheat-sheets, or ways to avoid solving the equations. If you want to build the puzzle, you must first solve the equations printed on the puzzle pieces – they alone hold the keys to putting the puzzle together. If you are new to linear equation jigsaw puzzles, and need some help getting starting, read “How to Solve a Linear Equation Jigsaw Puzzle“.


Are linear equation jigsaw puzzles only for classroom use?

Puzzles are enjoyed by everyone from grandma to your toddler. Classrooms certainly don’t have exclusive rights over them. While perfect for building class spirit and developing team work skills within the classroom environment, linear equation jigsaw puzzles are even more useful at home.

If you home school your children, integrate the puzzles in your home school lesson plan to spice up traditional algebra lessons. Parents with children who show reluctance to do their algebra homework can encourage an interest in the subject by introducing these puzzles as part of a reward system. For example, for every 3 traditional equation worksheets completed, the child could earn the opportunity to complete a linear equation jigsaw puzzle instead of a worksheet.

Does your family enjoy building puzzles together? Take it to the next level by completing a linear equation jigsaw puzzle as a family. This type of family activity helps encourage an appreciation for mathematics, and teaches children that the topics they deal with “in school” are not for exclusive use in school.