How much do your students love working with decimals and decimal operations?
Sometimes remembering decimal operations ‘rules’ can be difficult. But, practicing with math puzzles can help students’ logic and reasoning when it comes to decimal operations.
Turning decimal operations practice into a fun, Sudoku-like puzzle is a great way to help upper elementary and middle school math students work with the different decimal operations.
Many of my students love solving Sudoku puzzles using whole numbers. When we replace the whole numbers with decimal problems, we’re able to use a logic puzzle that gives students a new way to practice!
Solving Number Puzzles
Sudoku puzzles are fun and interesting.
In case you’ve never used them, they require problem solving and reasoning to make sure that every row, column and group of squares only has one of each number. Some students develop strategies when approaching a puzzle; some learn to use guess and check quite often:-)
When working with decimals in a Sudoku puzzle, students need to consider their target numbers, as well as how to complete the necessary operation. This makes decimal practice a bit more interesting and engaging than working on one problem after another on a worksheet.
How This Decimal Number Puzzle Works
As with whole number Sudoku, I start decimal Sudoku with a few squares filled in, so students have a starting point.
- (If students have never tried Sudoku puzzles before, I recommend starting with a regular Sudoku puzzle, to teach students how they work.)
So far, I’ve only used a 4 X 4 grid, which makes figuring out the target numbers fairly easy.
- All of the squares have a decimal problem with a missing addend in them.
- Within each 2 x 2 section, there is one completed problem, with the target number of 1, 2, 3, or 4 already filled in.
- The object is for students to figure out the target number for each square and then find the missing decimal number in each individual square.
- Every row and column must each contain 1, 2, 3 and 4 as the answers to the decimal problems (these are the target numbers).
- Every 2 x 2 section must also contain 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Decimal Puzzle Example
For example, on the answer key shown here:
- You can see the target numbers of 1-4 in the rows and sections (they’re in the columns as well)
- You can also see the completed decimal problems.
- Everything in black (target numbers and decimal numbers) is provided for students.
- Everything in green is what the students must find (target numbers and missing decimal addends).
Current and Future Decimal Puzzles
I’ve only used addition problems (which actually requires them to subtract:-), but other operations may work well also.
- Larger puzzles (6 x 6 and maybe 9 x 9) would also offer a greater challenge.
- Puzzles with all operations would be a greater challenge as well. For instance, in a 4 X 4 puzzle, the first column could be two multiplication problems and two addition problems.