Shape Puzzles

Shape Puzzles are a great way to practice or review information.  It provides an extra element of fun and challenge and is easy to differentiate using different content, shapes, or number of pieces.

Shape puzzles are a great way for students to process information and to have a little self-checking along the way. The following is a template that you can use to create a rectangular puzzle by hand.

Rectangular puzzle

Directions for Shape Puzzles

1. Students cut apart the puzzle.

2. Then they match up coordinating information.  Every side that touches must have coordinating ideas.  These ideas could be problems and solutions, terms and definitions, conversions, synonyms, antonyms, or a plethora of other combinations.

3.  Once they feel they have the puzzle “solved” they can glue their pieces on paper or have a “teacher check”.

Formulator Tarsia

Formulator Tarsia is a free computer program to help you design your shape puzzles.

Follow these instructions to download this freeware program.


2. Click on Free software.

3. Click on Download Now.

4. Select Save File.  The installer downloads to your computer, so you need to go to you download folder, find Tarsia 3.9 set up and follow the installation/set up instructions from there.

Once you have the program installed, you are ready to make your shape puzzle!

1. Open the program.

2. Click on the drop down menu of the blank paper under the word standards.  Select the type of puzzle that you want to make. The “standard” puzzle version does not put distractors around the perimeter, while the extended does.

3. You will see 2 large rectangles on your screen.  Click in the top rectangle to put the first part of a pair and then click on the bottom rectangle to input the matching information.

4. On the right hand side of the screen, you will see a list of numbers going vertically.  Click on the number 2 to go to a new screen to put the next set of matching information.

5. Continue putting in your matching sets until you have information in all of those numbered screens.

6. At any time, you can click on the table button at the bottom of the page, output to see how the students will see the puzzle, and solution to get your answer key.

7. You can also change the size of your puzzle and the font size using the drop down menus at the top or the vertical selection buttons on the right hand side when you are in the output and solution modes.

8. You need to print the output and solutions separately.  The output prints out just like you see it.  You may want to reduce it on the copier to fit on one page.

Happy puzzling!

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