An area of mathematics I wish more students had opportunities to explore is spatial/visualization. There are many studies that show just how important spatial/visual reasoning is for mathematical success (I discuss in more depth here), but often, we as teachers aren’t sure where to turn to help our students develop spatial reasoning, or now to make the mathematics our students are learning more spatial.
One such activity I’ve suggested before is Skyscraper Puzzles. I’ve shared these puzzles before (Skyscraper Puzzles and Skyscraper Templates – for relational rods). With the help of my own children, I decided to make new templates. The package includes a page dedicated to explain how to solve the puzzles, as well as instructions on each page.
For details about how to solve a Skyscraper Puzzle, please click here
You’ll notice in the package above that some of the puzzles are missing information like the puzzle below:
Puzzles like these might include information within the puzzle. In the puzzle above, the 1 in the middle of the block refers to the height of that tower (a tower with a height of 1 goes where the 1 is placed).
You might also be interested in watching a few students discussing how to play:
A few thoughts about how you might use these:
- How will you introduce these puzzles to your students? How much information about strategies and tips will you provide? Will this allow for productive struggle, or will you attempt to remove as much of the struggle as possible?
- Would you use these as an activity you give all students, or something you provide to just some. Why?
- How would giving a puzzle to a pair of students be different than if you gave it to individuals? Which were you assuming to do here? What if you tried the other option?
- How might using physical blocks be different than paper-and-pencil or electronic versions?
- If students are working on these away from school, what resources might you use instead of school manipulatives like snap cubes? Lego bricks? Checkers? Other household items?
- How will you orchestrate a conversation for your class to help consolidate the learning here?
- What will you do if students give up quickly? What questions / prompts will you provide?
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to write a response, or send me a message on Twitter ( @markchubb3 ).