Long time readers of this blog know that my kids love math and as a family we have enjoyed many an evening playing games, teasing out puzzles and solving brain teasers. Bethany of Math Geek Mama is here today to share something that combines all four topics into one stupendous activity: a math card puzzle brain teaser game. It’s called the “Five-Pointed Star” and you are going to love it. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.) – Erica
Do your kids hate math worksheets? I don’t blame them! What if I told you math practice doesn’t have to consist of flash cards and worksheets? It’s true. And today I’m going to share a super simple puzzle that will challenge your kids and deepen their math skills in a way that is fun. And all you need is a deck of cards.
Five-Pointed Star Math Brain Teaser
It’s amazing how the most seemingly simple tasks can provide the most rewarding challenges. This math card puzzle is easy to set up, but requires a lot of logical thinking, practice and skill to figure out.
Well, add some new twists and variations and you’ve got a brain teaser that will keep your kids busy for hours!
The Goal of the Five-Pointed Star Puzzle
This math card game challenge comes from the book, Math in the Cards: 100+ Games to Make Math Practice Fun. This book is full of not only fun puzzles and brain teasers, but simple card games to practice important math concepts. Math never has to be boring again!
The goal of this puzzle is to arrange 10 cards into a 5-pointed star so that no line of 4 cards has the same sum.
(There are 5 lines that make up the star — see image above).
To get started, you will need the Ace through 10 of one suit in a deck of cards (using the Ace to represent the number 1).
Then you get to play with cards and numbers!
How many different solutions can you find?
Variations to the Five-Pointed Star Puzzle
Once kids have found multiple solutions to the original challenge, you can make it harder with a few simple ideas.
First, change out the cards to include three 2’s, two 4’s, two 6’s and three 8’s. Arrange the cards into a 5-pointed star so that the sum of each line is equal to 20.
Next, once again use the cards Ace through 10 of the same suit. Can you arrange the cards into a star so that the sum of each line is equal? (HINT: This is not possible) How do you know?
Finally, for kids who really love math puzzles and games, challenge them to create their own puzzle. This could mean using only certain cards, or still using the cards Ace through 10. Let them be creative and then share their puzzle with friends and family!
Whether math time ends in tears, or your child can’t get enough math, this puzzle will be a fun break from the normal routine.
And a great break for you when the kids start whining, “I’m bored!”
Find more math games, challenges and puzzles, all using a simple deck of playing cards in the complete collection, Math in the Cards: 100+ Games to Make Math Practice Fun.
Or sign up for the free email series, which includes 5 more math card games + a bonus game!
About the author:
Bethany is the smart mama behind the site Math Geek Mama, which is full of rich and engaging math activities for all ages. Subscribe to her email to get a free set of math games! You can also follow her on Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram.
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