## Make and Solve Balance Puzzles with Mathigon’s PolyPad

Mathigon is one of the many free resources I’ve included in my Wakelet, “Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep.” It is rich with incredible interactive lessons that are visually appealing as well. Some examples I’ve mentioned in the past are the “puzzle a day” every December, its “Almanac of Interesting Numbers,” mathematical origami, the “Panorama” tool for seeing mathematical applications in careers, and “Alice in Fractal Land,” which you can find on the Activities page. (The Patterns and Sequences lesson is a good tie-in to the 12 Days of Christmas lesson I posted last week.) Also, the pentomino calendar challenge here.

One of the many tools I haven’t mentioned that you can find on the Mathigon site is “Polypad.” I was reminded of this when I saw a Tweet from @DavidPoras that showcased a fun way to customize some puzzles using the Algebra balance scale. In a way it reminds me of “Solve Me Mobiles” and the Balance Benders books we used to use in my elementary classroom or those Facebook math riddles that get passed around from time to time. With his permission, here is a screenshot of David’s Tweet:

If you happen to make more of these, please share on the comments. I will be adding this to my Math Wakelet, as well as my December/Winter one (under Stem). I might have a bit of time to create a few more puzzles, as I know teachers are short on time, and will share them here and on the December Wakelet if I do.

Thanks to David for the inspiration and to Mathigon for providing such an incredibly engaging site!

## Puzzle Huddle

I really needed a smile today, so I was happy to see the images on the Puzzle Huddle website when I clicked on the bookmark I had saved a few weeks ago. Even more delightful was watching the video in which Matthew Goins, who co-created the Puzzle Huddle company with his wife, Marnel, explains the path that led them to making these adorable puzzles. Although it’s sad that there is a need for more diverse puzzles, I admire that this couple is working to change that. “In my case, I got started because I wanted to make a difference for my three small children, so that now, hopefully, a few years and a lot of puzzles later, we will have made a difference for an entire generation of children.”

If I was still in the elementary classroom, I would absolutely want one or more of these in my room. The illustrations are fabulous, portray young people in inspiring situations, and allow children of color to see themselves in a fun medium that is often limited to white people. You can order from Puzzle Huddle (be sure to check out the Ada Twist series!), but you can also download some free coloring sheets. The company is also looking for Brand Ambassadors if you are interested.

Since I haven’t tried one of their puzzles yet, I can’t include Puzzle Huddle in my Gifts for the Gifted series, but I am going to add it to my Pinterest of recommended Games and Toys. I will also be adding this to my Anti-Racism Wakelet.

## The Social Distancing Puzzles

Yesterday’s post, which was about finding creative ways to make Zoom (or any online conference) calls fun, was a nice lead-in today’s shared activity. Eric Berlin, puzzlemaker extraordinaire, (see my Puzzlesnacks post for more info) came up with an ingenious idea that adds a twist to social distancing while earning money for charity.Â  When you use the form linked on this page to donate to Feeding America, and then provide a screen shot of your receipt, you will be e-mailed two sets of eleven puzzles in PDF form.Â  Choose a puzzle partner to give Set A or B to, and you will work on the other.Â  You can do some of the puzzles independently, and others will need collaboration.Â  The combination of puzzle answers from both sets will be needed to solve the final puzzle.

I haven’t done all of the puzzles, yet, but they look like they are probably suited for teenagers and up.Â  With your two sets of challenges comes a third file of hints and solutions.Â  For more information about Feeding America, you can visit this page on their website.Â  However, be sure to go to Eric Berlin’s page through this link so your donation will be correctly allocated.

## Puzzlesnacks

A few years ago, I wrote a post about a site called, “Puzzle Your Kids.”Â  Hosted by the author of the Puzzling World of Winston Breen series, Eric Berlin (@puzzlereric), “Puzzle Your Kids” provided a free puzzle each week, as well as a \$5 monthly subscription for more puzzles.Â  It looks like there have been a few changes, and the site has a new name and new home, along with a new price.Â  It is now called, “Puzzlesnacks.”Â  You can still get a subscription, but it is at the bargain price of \$3 per month.Â  Weekly puzzles continue to be free downloads, and there are other puzzle packs you can purchase in the online shop.Â  This page describes the approximate independence level of puzzle solvers, from the age of 8 and up.Â  I highly recommend adults working on these with children, as that type of modeling from my own parents is how I grew up to love logic and problem solving as well as develop a certain amount of perseverance.Â  In fact, my dad and I still semi-compete in solving a weekly mega-Sudoku puzzle that keeps my skills sharpened and my ego humble.

And no, I’m not exactly sure what language the crossword puzzle in the image below is (Greek, maybe?), but I thank the person on Pixabay who shared it.

## Student Crosswords from the NY Times

Did you know that the New York Times has an archive of student crosswords listed by subjects on this page?Â  From American History to Technology, you can find puzzles created by Frank Longo as well as the answers and suggested curriculum links.Â  I found this link when I discovered this page that provides a printable crossword puzzle on how people say thank you around the world.Â  A couple of other timely suggestions are, “Thanksgiving,” “Giving,” and “Holidays Around the World.”Â  These seem to be targeted at the teenage age range, though some upper elementary and middle school students can probably work on them in groups, given the proper resources.

## Futoshiki Puzzles

These online Futoshiki Puzzles were created by KrazyDad (you can find puzzles of all types on his site here).Â  The puzzles are similar to Sudoku and KenKen in that you are trying to place numbers in a matrix using logic without repeating digits in any row or column.Â  The twist is that Futoshiki puzzles provide clues using the inequality symbols for less than/greater than.Â  Your clues are in comparing boxes that are on either side of the inequality to determine which digits would logically work.

You can do Futoshiki puzzles online here.Â  Or, you can print out the pages provided by KrazyDad here.

Jim Bumgardner, the man behind KrazyDad, provides practically unlimited puzzle game fun on his site, so once you get worn out on the Futoshiki puzzles I recommend you try some of his other unique puzzles.