Pushing Wood

I realized that for me writing for two blogs is somehow psychologically much more difficult than putting the same content into one blog.  That’s why in addition to my adventures with Katie this blog will now have posts about math lessons that I help my sister teach at the Golden Key Russian School.  So here is number one.

I have always liked brainteasers involving toothpick constructions.  However, I have discovered that toothpicks are a bit hard for little kids to manipulate.  Fortunately, it turns out that one can use craft sticks as great substitutes.  A few weeks ago, we gave the kids a number of craftstick puzzles as an individual activity.  The kids did really well with solving them and for the most part seemed to really enjoy the process.  It was interesting that the ability to solve these problems was not much correlated with age: some four year olds did better than six year olds. 

Here are some sample problems:

Remove two sticks so that three identical squares remain.


Move three sticks to make four identical squares.


Move two sticks to get five identical squares.


Remove one stick so that five identical squares remain.


And the kids hard at work!


About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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1 Response to Pushing Wood

  1. sannichka says:

    i think the first little boy is at a disadvantage because it’s much harder to see the sticks on this detailed and bright carpet, than on a contrasting monotone surface 🙂 Hopefully, he solved his puzzle even with this hurdle!


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