This activity works to reinforce concepts of place value, problem solving, and math vocabulary - some of the most important and foundational pieces of a Mathematics education.
Each puzzle has ten clues, such as:
Teams work to solve each puzzle, confirming with me whether or not each answer is correct as they solve. I keep track of how many times they present an incorrect attempt, and I give very small and consistent hints as they continue to run into trouble. When the solution is correct, the team moves to the next puzzle. If the solution is incorrect, the team returns to find its mistake(s). In Wednesday's work, four of our six teams completed all ten puzzles in the first hour of the day...but as in life, these will only get more difficult as we progress through the next sets of puzzles. On Thursday, only one group was able to work through a packet of 10 puzzles in the time allotted, while on Friday, no one made it all the way through. There are more to come, but we will save those for another time, later in the year.
I was just happy that the entire class was able to stay engaged with very little redirection needed from the teacher. Along those lines, Principal Hennessey has privately commented to me that she has been impressed with the class whenever she has stopped by to see how we are doing. She specifically complimented the engagement of our class in appropriate activities.