Puzzle Club

I was a founding teacher at an English medium secondary school in Pune, India for the 2015-16 academic year. We had around 130 eighth and ninth standard students and shared our school building with English, Marathi and Urdu medium schools. With space and time both at a premium, it was a challenge to give our children experiences beyond academic content. Keeping this in mind, our team decided to start clubs at school that would meet once a week (usually on Thursday). Different teachers led the clubs that ranged from debate to music to craft. I was in charge of two clubs - a Cycling Club (discussed in another post) that met on alternate Sunday mornings and a Puzzle Club that met in school to learn and solve different puzzles. Being passionate about both these activities drove me to want my children to experience the same joys that I felt when solving a puzzle or cycling in the cool, fresh morning air!

Let me be clear - the Puzzle Club was the least glamorous club at the school! After all, most children did not want to exercise their grey matter during a time that was supposed to be a break from academics. In that sense, the 13 children who opted to join the club were self-selecting and enthusiastic about puzzles.

During our initial sessions, I focused on bringing puzzles that were visual and required out-of-the-box thinking while not being text heavy and hard to understand.

Once my kids had gotten into the routine of the Puzzle Club, we began learning and solving more complicated puzzles such as Akari and Kakuro. Like a typical lesson, we would first read and understand the rules together. Next, I would model my thought process and solve one puzzle in its entirety on the board for them. Then, I would solve a puzzle with their help on the board before having them work out the puzzles on their own using puzzle worksheets that I prepared beforehand. Similar to my instructional techniques, the puzzles in the worksheet were scaffolded so as to gradually build confidence and familiarity with the puzzle.

I planned the worksheets such that we frequently revisited past puzzle types. For example, in the sixth meeting of the club, there were 4 Kakuro puzzles (we learned Kakuro puzzles for the first time in the fifth session) of increasing difficulty, 2 Akari puzzles and 3 matchstick/visual puzzles in the worksheet. This made the worksheet diverse, appealing and also gave the children a choice as to what they would like to attempt depending on their moods and puzzle preferences. There were no strict rules about them having to do each and every puzzle on the worksheet and they were free to work together or individually on the puzzles that most interested them!

One of the puzzles my students really enjoyed was the 'measuring water' tasks (see examples below). When I asked them what made this puzzle exciting, they said that the lack of a fixed method to solve it challenged them and they had to use both logic and intuition to arrive at a solution which they found enjoyable.

At the end of the first term of classes, each club presented their activities on stage in the assembly hall. Some of my students demonstrated samples of the puzzles that we had worked on together and I was proud of them for planning and executing the presentation in such a confident manner!

Naresh showing the school how to solve one of the stick puzzles.

Sujata explaining the rules of Akari.

Mandeep demonstrating how to solve the water puzzles.


  1. Aah, the legendary hall !!

    1. Haha... Yes, all the good and LOUD times we had there! :-)

      That place has so many memories and symbolised our struggles and teamwork to the core. :-)


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