Squaring the Square

(R. L. Brooks, C. A. B. Smith, A. H. Stone and W. T. Tutte, 1930s)

Give students addition and subtraction practice and link these numerical activities to geometry. A fraction of students, predominantly girls, thrive when the beauty of mathematics is allowed to shine. These puzzles are therefore close-to-essential in any classroom learning subtraction. There is a lot to learn in how this abstract puzzle with no real-world application gets engagement rates of 95%.

Download puzzle-sheets here.

PS. These puzzles are mostly rectangles, but they were part of a long struggle to find a square that could be covered with smaller squares – all of different sizes.


Poetry is a form of mathematics, a highly rigorous relationship with words.

Tahar Ben Jelloun

Standards for Mathematical Practice

MathPickle puzzle and game designs engage a wide spectrum of student abilities while targeting the following Standards for Mathematical Practice:

MP1 Toughen up!

This is problem solving where our students develop grit and resiliency in the face of nasty, thorny problems. It is the most sought after skill for our students.

MP3 Work together!

This is collaborative problem solving in which students discuss their strategies to solve a problem and identify missteps in a failed solution. MathPickle recommends pairing up students for all its puzzles.

MP6 Be precise!

This is where our students learn to communicate using precise terminology. MathPickle encourages students not only to use the precise terms of others, but to invent and rigorously define their own terms.

MP7 Be observant!

One of the things that the human brain does very well is identify pattern. We sometimes do this too well and identify patterns that don't really exist.


Please use MathPickle in your classrooms. If you have improvements to make, please contact us. We'll give you credit 😉

Gordon Hamilton

(MMath, PhD)


Lora Saarnio