Puzzles in the Classroom by Mark Kielpinski, Summer 2002
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The Puzzles in My Program

 Beginner Puzzles view larger picture
Included in this first picture are some beginning puzzles that I would consider "Basic or Beginner" puzzles for a classroom. The boxed puzzle is the Diabolical Cube, behind it is the Tower of Brahma, in the middle of the picture is a Marble Maze, a Two-Piece Burr and also a Six Piece Burr with a solid key piece. On the right is a basic Post Puzzle; in the front is what I call a "Wrecktangle," and to its left is the Wit's End. To the right of the Wit's End is a two piece Tetrahedron. The back left of the picture has the Checkered Soma, a Diagonal Burr and a puzzle that I call Stickball. In this group of puzzles there are some basic packing, some easy ring and string puzzles (topological) to develop patterns for more difficult topology puzzles, and some basic put-together puzzles. I like to include the diagonal burr because the center of the puzzle and the separation of the two halves leads into so many of the other Stewart Coffin puzzles.
 Letter and Dissection Puzzles view larger picture
Next would be some more basic puzzles. The letter dissections are not my first choice for basic wood puzzles because these could be made out of cardboard or tagboard and still be utilized effectively. The letter dissections could be moved down to lower grades, possible third or fourth. I have the elephant puzzle in several different woods. I also have a dog and a camel that I am currently enlarging. The kids love these puzzles. I got to the point where a student drew the pieces for the kangaroo from a catalog I had but I haven't had time to make it yet. Also the two piece and three piece burrs are basic puzzles that the students quickly master. Most of these puzzles come from Wyatt's books.
 Ring and String Puzzles view larger picture
The picture at right includes some of the ring and string puzzles that I have in my classroom. Once the students have learned the basics, they begin to tackle more difficult puzzles. I have included ring and string puzzles because of the variety that they offer. Usually there will be some students that can look at the string and see right away the open path or how to solve the puzzle. There are also some students that have difficulty tying their shoes and are almost allergic to ring and string puzzles.

Another type of puzzle that has developed quite a fan club has been the burr puzzles. From basic to complex many students enjoy burrs because of the concrete objects that they make. There is a definite shape that should be made.
 Impossible Puzzles view larger picture