Quick brain teasers like the dot-in-the-corner paper cutting trick are a life saver when you need a way to keep kids busy!
This simple paper trick featuring a tricky dot that doesn't want to move from its corner engages the mind and distracts kids from getting antsy when they have to wait! It's another idea to add to our list of 20 waiting games for kids that keep kids off screens.
The set up to this brain teaser couldn't be simpler, and the puzzling trick also has some benefits for little minds!
- Visual perception
- Mathematical understanding
- Fine motor
- Problem solving and analysis
Below the instructions and solution video, you'll find some helpful tips when using this brain teaser in the classroom.
What you need:
The dot-in-the-corner printable.
Stopwatch (optional; only if you are very mean)
Step 1. Print out the paper cutting trick. Fill out the form and we'll send it right over to you.
Alternatively, you can easily draw your own version. The location of the dot need not be exact, as long as the paper is square and the dot is in the upper right hand corner.
Step 2. Trick your friends
Hand your friends the square of paper with the dot and a pair of scissors. Give them these instructions:
"Cut the square so that you have exactly two pieces of paper. Now, rearrange the two pieces so that the dot is the center, but the two pieces still form a square."
Step 3. Wait and watch
Take a step back, perhaps start a stopwatch. Observe to see if they can figure it out and how long it takes them to do it!
If you can't figure it out on your own, watch our video to see the solution! (*note, if you have trouble viewing the video below, you can watch it on our youtube channel)
Step 4. Fool your friends with more paper tricks!
Tips for Teachers & Parents
Instruct the child not to cut the paper until they are sure of the solution. Since they will inevitably make an incorrect cut, it can help to have more than one puzzle on hand. Our printable includes four puzzles for this reason.
If you make your own dot-in-the-corner puzzle, the dot doesn't have to be in a precise location, as long as it's in a corner. However, the location will affect exactly where the child must make the cuts.
There is mathematics at play here. Although the paper puzzle is square, the cut will not be exactly square, or the dot won't end up in the middle of the paper. You can encourage inquiry by asking:
- Where would the dot need to be if you cut out exactly ¼ square from the corner?
- How would your cut(s) have to be different if the dot moved up or down? Left or right?
It's unlikely a child could eyeball the cut to get a dot exactly in the center, as long as they get the concept.
For older kids, you could turn this into a geometry problem using graph paper and equations to figure out the exact measurements, but that is beyond my pay grade. I'll leave figuring that conundrum to the math teachers out there.