menu   Home Answers Math Games Free Resources Contact Me  

You Are An Important "Piece" of the Puzzle - using puzzles as ice breakers

I have quite a large family, 21 of us when we all get together. This past Christmas, my daughter insisted that I have name place cards so everyone would know where to sit. Since I thought this was a good idea, I went to the Dollar Tree and bought a 24 piece puzzle. I had my husband spray paint the pieces, and then, using a paint pen, I wrote each person's name on an individual piece. Since I had three pieces left over, I wrote "2017" on one, "Christmas" on another and drew a happy face on the third one. I then put a piece at each person's place at the table and explained that the theme for our dinner was "You are an important piece of our family."

When the 12 grandchildren finished eating Christmas dinner (they always finish first) they put the puzzle together. They were challenged but had fun doing it. They were also occupied while the adults finished eating.

This idea got me thinking about my college students. The first of the semester is always hard because they don't know me or one another, They are even unsure as where to sit. I got to thinking that this would be a great way to introduce my students to one another, and it would provide an interesting hands-on activity for the first day of class.

This might also be something that you could use at the beginning of the school year, but what happens if a student leaves or a new student is assigned to your room? If you paint both sides of the puzzle pieces, you can flip over the piece of the student who leaves and have a blank puzzle piece in its place. You can also leave blank ones to add new students. Don't forget, puzzles come in a variety of different sizes; so, if you have more than 24 students, it shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure the pieces themselves are large enough for the students to easily handle.