Today at school our little ones (year 5 and 6) had a fun filled day of maths puzzles and games. It was an absolutely fascinating day, and brilliant to see them working in groups and having so much fun with maths.
The 7 puzzle experience is a day of activities run by Paul Godding, who is a self-proclaimed "Board Game & Puzzle Inventor".
I have long been a huge fan of his blog, which he populates with at least two new puzzles every day. The puzzles range in type and difficulty, and all are clearly labelled. Students can comment on each puzzle with an answer, and Paul will get back to them telling them if they are right, or they can be done in class. I have used many of them as effective starter activities with all my classes (from Year 7 to A-Level), and they inspired my mathematically possible activity. They have also made great additions to my Puzzle Box, which I use as an extension activity in all lessons.
However, today I saw the full potential of his Board Games in the classroom. He used a variety of activities in each session, with a mixture of some of his own games, and some other mathematical games he sells. The whole session was very much based on working in teams, and working effectively in groups, and this generated some wonderful discussion.
The activities he used varied. We played a game a bit like dominoes (4swm & 3swm), where maximum points must be scored for putting same coloured pieces together, and adding the numbers. We also played a bit of the classic shut the box, where students have roll two dice, and either knock down the number that is the sum, or any pair that make the sum, aiming to be left with the lowest numbers left up after 6 rolls. We also played the excellent Mathematically Possible Board Game, where students had to use tactics as well as their knowledge of order of operations to score as many points as possible. Finally, we had the namesake of the day, the 7 Puzzle Game, which had students use the avaible pieces to cover most of a board, leaving certain things visible (circles, pinks or factors).
Each activity had the students thoroughly engaged for the entire time, and even the staff who were there were getting involved too. They had to use different ideas for each game, but they all incorporated an element of maths, with some problem solving, and also some tactical play (they are competitions after all).
The day as a whole was fantastic, and Paul himself was very inspirational. If you haven't checked out his site, then do have a look, and I really recommend thinking about having him come to your school to do a day like this. If you are a twitter person, then you can also follow him @7puzzle.
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.