Monday, March 26, 2012

Brain Bender Subtraction Puzzles

My mother-in-law bought my son a Scramble Squares puzzle. It has challenged all of us to no avail. It’s certainly been fun, though! Watching my son play with it gave me the idea to make a brain bender math puzzle!

Since my son's teacher told us at his parent-teacher conference that his addition skills were stronger than his subtraction, I thought this would be a good chance to give him more practice.

I made two puzzles of varying difficulty.
Download a PDF of these puzzles here.

I printed each on sticker paper and attached them to an empty cereal box (like I did for both the magic squares and letter magnets I made in the past). I cut them out, attached magnet tape to the back, and handed the easier of the two puzzles (blue) over to my son with a small magnetic board. 

I told him that all the pieces needed to form the shape of one large triangle. He needed to position each triangle magnet so every problem was adjacent to the corresponding answer.

He struggled at first. Before he got too frustrated, I put the top most triangle on the board and told him to work off of that. In no time, the whole triangle was put together!

NOTE: Depending on how saturated the ink is on the paper when you print the blue puzzle, you may need to draw a line under the numbers 6 and 9 on the answer triangles so they are not confused. While this was part of the original design, I found that the ink bled when I printed them and needed to redraw the lines.


  1. Congratulations on your ingenious design of a creative brain bender math subtraction game to help your first grader develop his subtraction skills.

    Scramble Squares® are visually stimulating puzzles made in America from exquisite original art and teach patience, perseverance, fine motor skills and critical thinking skills in children and help maintain mental acuity in adults and seniors, while providing stimulating entertainment as a either a solitaire game or as a cooperative activity. Each puzzle package includes a panel of fascinating facts on the subject of the puzzle, as well as a trivia question and hidden answer, all packaged in a unique and handy resealable clear vinyl pouch, which can be stored easily in a standard 3-ring binder. Award winning Scramble Squares® 9-piece brainteaser puzzles are Easy To Play, But Hard To Solve!® for children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens of all ages.

    I am executive vice president of b. dazzle, inc., the makers of Scramble Squares® puzzles.

    Marshall P. Gavin, Executive Vice President
    b. dazzle, inc.

    1. Thanks for visiting the site, Marshall, and thanks to all at your company for the clever puzzle we have gotten so much enjoyment (and inspiration) out of!

  2. This is an awesome idea. I am continually impressed with your blog and ideas. Thank you so much for sharing them.

    1. Thanks, jmommymom, for the compliments, support, and especially for following! I'm glad you like what you see!

  3. I can't wait to bend some brains with this in my classroom. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is a great idea! I can't wait to use it with my boys.

  5. love this idea I am going to make it with multiplication tables for my son

  6. Thank you so much for such fun learning!


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