The Giant Sculpture Gallery: A Math Puzzle

At HMH, we recognize that learning goes hand in hand with play. It’s a philosophy that transcends any one discipline. To name a few examples:

  • Improving at a musical instrument requires playing for fun, according to a 1996 study.
  • Coding for fun is an effective step toward becoming an expert programmer, one 2006 study found.
  • Children who play more show greater empathy and intellectual development, according to a 1994 article in Young Children

Even math—a subject that many people do not associate with play—offers deep learning when play is involved. This ranges from kindergarteners playing with shapes to college students playing a game that teaches the fundamentals of symbolic logic.

As such, we want to do our part to encourage play both in the classroom and on your own time. We hope you or your students can have fun with a free math puzzle!

HMH has officially launched Into Math, a new core K–8 math program, with authors including Dr. Juli K. Dixon, Dr. Matt Larson, Dr. Timothy D. Kanold, and Steven Leinwand. One design principle of Into Math is productive perseverance—that is, learning requires encountering problems that one struggles with and can’t solve at first, then persevering toward a solution.

The puzzle below is designed to encourage that. First attempts are unlikely to work. Solvers must struggle through different approaches and design their own strategy to solve it. The puzzle primarily addresses three math standards:

  • Describe and calculate the areas of rectangles.
  • Add 5- and 6-digit numbers.
  • Find unknown side lengths of polygons. 

Notably, the puzzle also addresses one standard for mathematical practice:

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

Learn more about HMH’s new learning programs for K-12 students, including Into Math.