Here is another idea brought to you by the seductively fun Deb Abshier.

She brought a version of this activity to share with our class on Wednesday night, and I love it! The possibilities are endless, but it is very important that you set it up correctly.

(MAKE SURE YOU CLICK HERE TO READ THIS POST TOO IN ORDER TO MAKE THE ACTIVITY GO MUCH MORE SMOOTHLY!!!–way better than how I originally did it as laid out below)

  1. Write out seventeen sentences, or questions/answer combinations, or trivia (ex: capital cities and countries), or subjects/conjugated verbs, etc.
  2. Split each ofyour seventeen sentences into two parts. If you want to guarantee that there is only ONE correct “answer” to the puzzle, make sure that you write sentences and split them at places that limit students’ options: “toca” (plays) ONLY matches “la guitarra” (the guitar) on this puzzle. If I had split it after “Mi hermano” (my brother), the sentence could be correctly completed with any third-person verb form. (The second page of the document has subject/verb splits, and there are probably multiple correct arrangements of the puzzle, although I’m not sure).
  3. Place the two corresponding word chunks across from each other on all of the inside edges of the puzzle. For example, note the placement of “Mi hermano toca/la guitarra” in the upper-right corner of this image.
  4. Fill in the outside edges of the puzzle by copying some of the sentence parts from the inside of the puzzle in order to make it more complicated: students will have to match up ALL FOUR sides of the square instead of just finding one side that matches and assuming that the other three are correct.
  5. Copy the document and distribute to students (individuals, pairs, or groups…you decide)
  6. REQUIRE THAT STUDENTS CUT OUT EACH INDIVIDUAL SQUARE…even though this will take forever. It would probably be worth your time to cut them yourself using a paper cutter; just make sure you have a strategy for sorting the cut-out squares into sets. THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT because if students just cut between the lines once, they can simply match up the cut edges instead of the text. EACH LINE MUST BE CUT SEPARATELY. This definitely makes this a more time-consuming activity than it should be. A good solution would be to make a class set that you cut out and laminate and use over and over and over.
  7. Have students put the puzzle back together.

In the document, I included three different ways that you could use the activity:

  1. Facts from a story–I used “El lobo hambriento” and split up different events (Ex: The wolf is sad/and cries, The girl steals/the wolf’s food)
  2. Subject/verb pairs (Ex: Nosotros/comemos) using three -er verbs in the present tense
  3. Sentences in the present tense (Ex: My brother/plays the guitar)

The fourth page is blank. Download an editable version here.

11 replies on “Jigsaw Puzzle

  1. There’s a WAY easier way to do this! Download “Tarsia formulator” ( , it makes the puzzle pieces for you and you just have to print it out! You type in your matches (questions and answers, opposite pairs, vocab in Span & Eng) and the program makes it for you! And the print out is already jumbled up, so students don’t worry about matching cutting lines. The program was originally made for math teachers to make math puzzles, but it’s a fantastic (free!) tool for language teachers! There are all different shaped puzzles, and domino shaped ones too.

    I love this blog so much! I just discovered it, and I keep finding fun ideas to incorporate. (And finding old ideas I didn a long time ago and have forgotten about!)

  2. Hi,

    thank you for the post!

    I could not find the sentence about “Mi hermano toca /la guitarra” anywhere in the upper right corner, but I did find it in the upper left.

    If you want to try keeping sets of the puzzle pieces separate, or try to find a way to separate them if they get mixed up, print the puzzle on different colored papers (use as many different colors as you can). If you must duplicate a color–blue, for example–take one set and put a dot (or star or smiley face or..) .on the back of each puzzle piece. If they get mixed up, when it is time to sort them out, just make sure you look on the back of the puzzle pieces.

    I used some vocab cards that had the same potential problem (one student’s set getting mixed up with another student’s set), and I had one student draw stripes on the back of her set before cutting them apart. It worked for keeping them separate, but it took a long time, and you probably wouldn’t want to use it for the puzzle, since students might try to match the stripes on the back instead of the sentences on the front.

  3. I don’t quite understand how the puzzle goes together, I’ve never been very good at puzzle myself. Do the squares line up to make a sentence?

    1. The completed puzzle is a rectangle, the same size as the piece of paper. Any touching square sides have to combine to make intelligible sentences.

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