# 5 ways to Make High School Math Fun with Tarsia Puzzles

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Imagine your brain is already fried from listening to a lesson you could barely understand.

And then, when all you want to do is turn off your brain, imagine being handed a sheet full of endless questions about that same lesson – with even MORE numbers and words you can barely understand.

If you can picture this, then you know exactly how a lot of our students feel, sitting in their high school math classroom.

As educators, there isnâ€™t much we can do to change how they feel about math in general. Many of them come in with a pretty set attitude about math already. But at the very least, we can help students feel less overwhelmed. We can maybe even add a bit of fun to their learning experience.

This is where the magic of Tarsia puzzles comes in.

## Table of Contents

I love using Tarsia puzzles in my math class. Since incorporating these triangular-shaped puzzles into my routines, Iâ€™ve seen so many benefits for my students.

But firstâ€¦

**Whatâ€™s a Tarsia Puzzle?**

Okay, okay. Here it is: a Tarsia Puzzle or two.

Basically, these puzzles have questions arranged around triangles, and students need to match the questions on one triangle with the correct answer on a different triangle.

Eventually, as they put the pieces together, theyâ€™ll be able to form a larger shape. You can even have them color it in. Looks great on the classroom wall. Theyâ€™re much better looking than a long list of math questions on a page, I can tell you that much.

**Why are Tarsia Puzzles Awesome?**

So many reasons! My Tarsia puzzles have gotten my students excited about math if you can believe it. Hereâ€™s how I leverage them in my classroom!

### 1. **Increase Student Engagement**

Aside from being a good-looking piece of work, there are so many ways to use Tarsia puzzles to increase student engagement.

For one thing, I love to use them as a Bell Ringer activity. When students come to class and see that their first activity is a puzzle, they immediately jump in to get involved.

The kids also really enjoy having the chance to do some cutting and pasting. The hands-on, tactile experience makes the activity interactive and memorable. Not to mention that the sense of gratification as the larger puzzle comes together is a positive reinforcement in and of itself.

All of this really does help set the tone for a positive learning experience during the rest of the class, and truly – isnâ€™t that the goal?

### 2. **Reduces Math Anxiety**

Often, a blank sheet of paper filled with endless math problems can overwhelm students, leading to a sense of frustration and anxiety.

Tarsia puzzles, on the other hand, break down the work into manageable chunks – or rather, into cute little triangles. This reduces stress and allows students to focus on solving a few problems at a time, making their math practice so much less intimidating.

On top of that, Tarsia puzzles arenâ€™t your boring, traditional worksheets, and yet each puzzle has 18-19 questions. So students are still getting the same amount of practice as a traditional worksheet, but it doesnâ€™t feel as much like a burden.

Which, by the way, leads us toâ€¦

### 3. **Differentiation, Differentiation, Differentiation**

Thereâ€™s not much in the world thatâ€™s more disheartening than looking out at a sea of glassy-eyed high school kids.

When I see that, I know theyâ€™re overwhelmed. I know theyâ€™re trying so hard to be respectful, but theyâ€™ve shut down.

This is why Tarsia puzzles are one of my number one go-to activities to differentiate for students who are struggling with their math work.

Given how all the questions are separated into triangles, the visual separation helps chunk the questions down into manageable parts. Theyâ€™re like task cards, except in a triangular orientation.

With the questions chunked into smaller parts, students are less likely to shut down, more likely to participate, and less likely to give up.

I further differentiate for my students by providing three different levels of difficulty, which are included in all of my Tarsia puzzle resources here.

Having three levels of difficulty allows me to tier the practice, reaching each student at their level. This helps me ensure that they are experiencing success throughout their learning journey.

And of course, as students experience more success, the more motivated they will be to keep going.

### 4. **Collaboration**

Thereâ€™s almost nothing better than watching students engage in math talk, and Tarsia puzzles are one such resource that encourages this.

While you CAN assign these puzzles for kids to work on individually, itâ€™s more fun to let them work together to solve them.

When students get to engage in social learning, it promotes peer learning and fosters a sense of camaraderie among classmates. Not only does this improve their math skills, but it lets them practice their communication skills too.

Besides, the energy that comes from putting a puzzle together really cannot be underestimated. Kids are kids, afterall đź™‚

And last but not leastâ€¦

### 5. **Reduce the Marking!**

This speaks for itself!!! Helping teachers reduce overwhelm is important too, and one way to do this is to REDUCE OUR MARKING.

Because Tarsia puzzles come together once students get the correct answers, they can immediately know whether or not theyâ€™re on the right track. The instant feedback puts the responsibility back on the students to check their answers and engage in math talk with their peers to figure out how to correct their own mistakes.

If they canâ€™t figure it out, THEN they can take the initiative to ask you for help. You donâ€™t need to tell them when to get support from you; theyâ€™ll already know from the activity.

**Resource Roundup!**

Tarsia puzzles have been a huge game-changer in my math classroom.

They offer SUCH a unique and effective way to teach and reinforce math concepts, making learning enjoyable and accessible for all students. Like with task cards, they chunk math practice questions into manageable parts, PLUS the added bonus of creating a kinesthetic, cut-and-paste learning experience.

Here are some Tarsia Puzzles I made for my class! You can incorporate these in your teaching arsenal too, and create a dynamic, engaging learning environment for your math students.

If you have any questions, OR youâ€™d like to talk more about how to fit Tarsia puzzles into your classroom routine, please feel free to reach out. I love to share more insights and resources with you đź™‚