This year my students have been using a leveled website to work on basic facts in addition and subtraction. Last week many students finished all of their addition facts and were moved on to subtraction. As soon as they did, I had a lot of complaints about how much harder it was. One particular kiddo told me “my brain keeps wanting to plus instead of minus.” Out of the mouths of babes, right? I love it when my students hit on the way their brains work! This statement from my kiddo also reminded me of why it is not optional to work on mixed practice activities. Students need to work on activities where you have more than one operation in order to build flexibility of mind. This is why I have mixed operation activities in my addition and subtraction with regrouping tiling puzzles.
What are tiling puzzles?
Tiling puzzles are a series of equations, each with at least one digit missing. Students receive the digit tiles for 0 – 9 and must use each tile only one time in order to make all of the equations true. These tiling puzzles are already a great way to work on flexibility of mind because they teach students that there is more than one way to solve a math problem. Because each tile can only be used one time, students often need to move a tile out of a place that is technically correct in order to use that tile somewhere else. This alone creates flexibility for math in the mind of an 8 year old. Now add to that the fact that you might be adding OR subtracting and the synapses start firing at rapid rates.
How does flexibility of mind help students?
Have you ever seen kiddos make a mistake in math and refuse to be able to see their mistake? This is because they lack the flexibility to be able to see that there is more than one way to solve a problem. Their brain is fixated on the way they were trying to solve the problem (which led to the mistake in the first place) and they can’t get past it. By giving students many times when problems get solved in multiple different ways, when different operations are used, when the brain must work in more than one way at once, we are building flexibility of mind. Flexibility of body can help students to better meet athletic challenges. And so flexibility of mind can help students better meet academic challenges – in all subjects.
Where can you get FREE mixed operation tiling puzzles?
In my Teachers Pay Teachers store, I have a great many tiling puzzles available. However, my favorite are the mixed operation puzzles that are available for free. Stop by and download the Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping Tiling puzzle. Or if you have access to Chromebooks or other Google Classroom devices, check out the Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping Tiling puzzle for Google Classroom and don’t worry any more about missing number tiles!
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