Skip to main content

Perfecting the Jigsaw

October 25, 2012

In February, I posted an awesome idea by the seductively fun Deb Abshier on this blog: The Jigsaw Puzzle. After several moderately successful uses of the Jigsaw in class, I think that I have finally found two perfect recipes for success. FIRST CHANGE, OPTION A--Time consuming, but doesn't require much on the tech-end. First, cut out the pieces for your students ahead of time. Because it is so important that you cut out each square separately (so that students have to match the text and not just the cut edges of the paper), it takes FOREVER if students do it. Make a class set (or half a class set and have the kids work in partners) and have them assembled ahead of time. I cut them out like this:

  1. Using a paper cutter, trim the four edges off the paper.
  2. Using the paper cutter, hold the paper so that the long side is horizontal (landscape), and cut apart the four columns. Make sure that you cut out each side of each column (you will make six cuts) so that each line is cut separately.
  3. Using scissors, cut apart each individual box. You will end up making four more cuts in each column in order to accomplish this (producing three boxes per column).
  4. You should now have twelve squares.
  5. Have a student combine the squares into piles of twelve; each student or pair will receive one pile with twelve different cards.

FIRST CHANGE, OPTION B--Saves tons of time but requires some fiddling on the tech side

  1. Create your jigsaw doc and save the file as 'SOLUTION'
  2. Duplicate the file and save the second version as 'PUZZLE' (some word processing programs will allow you to duplicate the page within the same doc--this is fine, too!)
  3. In the PUZZLE file, rearrange the boxes (putting them in different places and rotating them) so that they are out of order.
  4. Print out a bunch of copies and give them to students to cut out and put together! Since they were not in the correct place when printed, students won't have seen the solution! Way easier than Option A if you are savvy with your word processing skills!

SECOND CHANGE The next change that I made was to add a number to each box. The numbers are not in any order, and they are different for each puzzle (meaning each puzzle set--I don't print out 30 different versions each time I do a puzzle) so that students can't memorize the order. I did this because my students were incredibly inept at creating piles of twelve without pulling multiple cards from one pile and none from others. It was ridiculous. The first time we did the puzzle after I had students put together the piles, we spent half the class period trying to figure out which card(s) students were missing and which duplicates they had. This way, students can quickly check their piles to make sure that they have one of each card numbered 1-12. Alternatively, you could number the backs of the cards and print 1-2 sided, so that each page has a unique number on the back. With these two modifications, students should be able to successfully complete the activity without stressing you out. This puzzle is very challenging for many students, so I usually play until just a few students have solved it. The first student to solve the puzzle gets a big prize, and usually a student can solve it within 15 minutes or so. Download the updated version of the game here--it includes three new ready-to-go puzzles for Spanish, in addition to the English and blank templates. If you have already downloaded it, you should receive a notification in your email to download the new version (free update). The last page of the document is an easier version of the puzzle because all of the numbers are facing the same direction, so you can tell students that the puzzle pieces can only be arranged so that you can read the numbers in a normal left-right fashion (not in order, just the same direction).

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to 150+ free resources for language teachers.

Subscribe Today