These activities for Algebra, Geometry, & middle school make great stations or critical thinking puzzles.
I created these for easy differentiation, and really loved them. They turned out to be durable and easy to store and re-use each year.
They are even dry-erase friendly! The kids love the uniqueness and variety.
For mine, I use permanent markers (except for the top plate in the "rotations" activity - Dry Erase markers are better there, since the student does the drawing).
Some of these require 3 layers of clear plastic plates, and some only require 2 layers.
Other than that, you really just need a permanent marker for most.
After trying a few different topics with these puzzles, I noticed that they really motivate students to find more efficient mathematical methods and develop their own shortcuts to try to solve them faster! ... Awesome for critical thinking!!
Here's how to do it:
For these ones, I pressed a paper between two plates to get an imprint of the circle. I cut it out to the right size and made a little template. I folded to make 8 sectors. I traced a candle for the center circle, then eyeballed the halfway point from that circle to the edge to make the three layers of numbers.
I kept this template and now I re-use it each time. I just lay it under the plates while I create each activity.
Triangle Inequality Theorem Puzzle
This offers a great critical thinking challenge and really reinforces the concepts behind the side lengths of triangles. By the time they test and spin a few times, the students get a ton of practice with the theorem.
They start analyzing patterns in an attempt to test cases more quickly. It's a pretty good challenge!
Triangle Sum Theorem Puzzle
As they spin and test to find the solution to this puzzle, students have to first determine what the third angle measure will be (using triangle sum theorem - 180 degrees). Then, they can think about the classification. Again, they will develop shortcuts on their own as they work.
The motivation to solve the puzzle leads them to find their own ways to become more mathematically efficient!
Integer Addition Puzzle
The 3 layers have to be arranged so that each set of 3 numbers adds up to 10. You can easily make a huge set of these, each with different "goal" numbers.
Once I discovered the joys of my little plastic plate rotation stations, of course I could not get enough. I decided to make a few to add a little fun to Algebra 1.
Instead of using a table on a worksheet, students can manipulate the plate and try to figure out the rule.
It's not too fancy, but you can use basic or more challenging function rules and show the idea of a function in a different way for those hands-on / visual learners. Some kids enjoy using these for practice.
I just draw the function machine on the top layer, and arrange my input and output values on the bottom layer. As the kids spin it, they try to find the function rule that defines each relationship.
The other is more challenging. The rule is f(x) = x^2 - x.
Rotations on the Coordinate Plane
Everything spins so smoothly and stays aligned. It is the best way I have found so far to do rotations manually.
It helps to mark off a line every 90 degrees for reference. You can do more marks if you want to do other rotations. Click here to download the jpg image file for the coordinate plane if you do not have a printable one in this size already.
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