## Wednesday, July 3, 2013

### Fourth of July Puzzle It Out with Math

Here's a fun flag puzzle your students can use for Basic Math Fact Practice and to learn more about the birthday of the United States of America on July 4.

If it's easier for you to copy it as two pages instead of back to back, let your students glue the sheets back to back. If you prefer, print only the front of the puzzle and let your students draw their own pieces on the back.

Give each student a flag puzzle, crayons or markers, an envelope and scissors. Let each student color the flag, then turn it over and print a math equation and his or her initials on each puzzle piece on the back.

 Back of Puzzle
 Front of Puzzle
Make sure they number (or letter) each piece. Have them color a border or frame around the equations, if they wish. Then let them cut out the puzzle pieces and place them in an envelope. Have each student print her name on her envelope.

As they work, talk about the meaning of the 13 stripes and 50 stars. Explain that the flag is also called "Old Glory." Talk about the flag's history and how the design changed over the years as stars were added. Point out that the flag pattern does not have the correct number of stars and stripes. Read more about the history of the U.S. flag at http://www.pbs.org/capitolfourth/flag.html.

Divide students into partners. Let them play with one puzzle at a time. Have them lay out the pieces from one envelope picture side up on a table or floor. The first player takes a piece, turns it over, and solves the equation aloud. If he solves the equation correctly, he places the piece in the center of the play area, picture side up, and gets 100 points. The other student draws a puzzle piece, solves the equation out loud, and places the piece approximately where it will go on the puzzle. If the student solves the equation incorrectly, he simply returns the puzzle piece to the pile, flag picture side up. The players receive 100 points for each correct answer.

Play continues alternating in this way until the puzzle is completed.  The player with the most points wins. If you prefer to play without keeping score, have the winner be the player to place the final puzzle piece. Return the puzzle pieces to their envelope, after talking about the flag and its history. If you have time, let the students play again, using the other puzzle.

Alternate way to play:
cand trade envelopes with a classmate. Give each student a paper and pencil. At your signal, have the students solve the math equations, writing the answers on their papers. When the equations are solved, let them put together the puzzle and stand up when it's completed. (Have them yell out "Happy Independence  Day" if you don't mind the noise.) The first person standing wins. Read more about Independence Day at History.com.

Return the puzzles to their rightful owners and trade envelopes once more (with a different partner). The first partner to finish and solve the equations correctly gets 100 points. Also award 100 points for each equation solved correctly.

If you have time, let the students play again, trading puzzles with another classmate.

How do you help students understand the birthday of our country? Leave a note by clicking on the word Comment below.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: www.excelmath.com. Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and take a walk through the curriculum at excelmath.com/tour/tour01.html.