HOW do they do it? Creating your own math puzzles

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  • What: An intensive two-session masterclass on creating puzzles for the young and the young at heart, from concept to sharing.
  • Why: You and your students can do accessible, real math like the pros do it! Learn how open-ended mathematical play leads to deep questions.
  • Who: Math circle leaders, parents, teachers, and teens, with children (ages 5-10) as apprentice puzzle makers. Lead by Dr. Sian Zelbo, the author of Camp Logic and the upcoming Playing with Blocks.
  • When: Live meetings August 17th and 18th at 8-9 PM EST (New York).
  • Where: Online video-talk software Zoom (similar to Skype); recordings available to participants.
  • Price: Registration is $20 per family or class. Work-trade stipends are available upon request.


Creating Math Puzzles

You are invited to an online workshop in two sessions, Creating Your Own Puzzles. It is for parents, math circle leaders, and teachers who want to learn where mathematics comes from, and help children play like mathematicians do.

Let’s explore!

Creating Your Own Math Puzzles masterclass will unpack the process of creating a mathematical puzzle, starting with the open-ended mathematical play that leads us to ask deep questions. How do I start? Where do ideas come from? How do I know if the questions I am asking are mathematical? How do I know if my questions are good ones?  We will address all of these questions as we work through the process of creating puzzles together.

Make Math Puzzles

This is the second workshop based on Sian’s upcoming book, Playing With Blocks: A Do-It Yourself Guide to Exploring Geometric Objects. Mathematics curricula are often structured around specific concepts and procedures. Children don’t often get the opportunity to ask their own questions, look for patterns, and make their own mathematics.

Make Math Puzzles

Playing With Blocks has specific know-how for launching your own explorations of geometry, and for guiding your students to do the same. The book also looks at the process of finding, asking, and answering mathematical questions. It breaks the process into stages, demystifying it and making real mathematics accessible to everyone.

Make Math Puzzles

This masterclass will meet twice in a webinar format. During the first meeting, Sian will guide you through the first stages of the puzzle-making process. You can play for a day, and then meet again to ask questions that came to you, and to take puzzle-making to the next level. Natural Math webinars aim to be less like a YouTube video, more like an active math circle where you chat, play, and interact.


Sian sian pic bw1Zelbo holds a degree in law from the University of Texas and an MA in math education from Teachers College Columbia University. Sian was a practicing lawyer when she decided to return to school to explore her interest in mathematics. Sian is the co-author of Camp Logic, and has held various positions in mathematics education including associate director of the Center for Mathematical Talent at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University and math specialist at the Speyer Legacy School in New York City.  Sian also runs math circles and works with various schools as a math education consultant. Sian’s interest is in helping young people discover and develop their own interest and ability in mathematics through extracurricular activities that focus on mathematical reasoning and problem solving.

Questions? Email or ask in comments to this page.

  • Connection and devices: you will need fast internet to watch and listen. It’s better to have a microphone and a webcam so you can show and tell as well, but you can also use text chat.
  • Software: Zoom is a tool for talking, like Skype or Google Hangouts. Please download and try it, here: The same page has the link to a tech support center, in case you need it.

Click to register for the masterclass