Solving puzzles supports reasoning and logical thinking.
Solving puzzles is a great way to develop and strengthen reasoning and logical thinking skills that are essential to math. Both the National Council of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards and the Common Core Practice Standards highlight the importance of reasoning in all aspects of mathematics. Algebra, in particular, requires the ability to recognize patterns and relationships and to use this information to solve problems.
Solving puzzles can help students learn to persist with a difficult or complex task.
Good puzzles present a perplexing task that is not readily solved. At the same time they are designed to be fun and engaging, so that the puzzle solver will work to figure out the solution. In math, students often give up on challenging problems that they would be able to solve with some effort. Puzzles that are not focused on math can be an engaging way to develop persistence.
Reasoning and logical thinking can’t be taught as a single unit in math.
NCTM recommends that reasoning and problem-solving should be embedded throughout the math curriculum at all grades, and the Common Core Practice Standards for Mathematics have reasoning and logical thinking embedded throughout. Puzzles are one way that students can develop these skills in a nonthreatening environment. Puzzles can be used at any time and many can be solved in a relatively brief period.
Advantages of digital puzzles
Creating puzzles in digital formats offers flexibility not available in pencil-and-paper versions. Students can select a specific puzzle that provides an appropriate challenge and can easily move through different levels of difficulty. Puzzles also can be developed with embedded supports that assist students when they need help without revealing the solution. The tablet format makes it easy to try different strategies within a single puzzle and to correct errors without needing to start over.