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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.

Heart Rebus Fun

Only $4.75
Many of my students love figuring out rebus puzzles. (a visual puzzle in which words are
represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters.)  In a nut shell, they are essentially little pictures which cryptically represent a word, phrase, or saying.  Since Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I decided to have some fun and create 24 rebus puzzles for the month of February.

Hearts and Valentines is resource that features familiar expressions that contain the word "heart". (e.g. "From the Bottom of My Heart" or "Cross My Heart") Each illustration in this 13 page resource uses a picture or symbol to represent a common word or phrase.  Students must use logic and reasoning skills to solve the 24 rebuses. So that you don't have to figure out each one, the answers are included.

Each day during the month of February, put up one "Heart" illustration as a student focus activity, OR, if you choose, place two or three up at one time or all of them up at the same time. Students are to figure out which Heart expression the picture represents. It can be fun, but also a very challenging Valentine's Day activity!  Look at the following images and try to work out what they mean.

The first one is "a heart full of love." Were you able to figure it out?

The second one is a bit more challenging. The answer is "a heavy heart." Did you solve it on your own?

Challenge your students to make some of their own "heart" rebus puzzles. A few in this handout were created by middle school students who prove they can be very creative!