Lay off of the morning math worksheets and try out some of these magical math puzzles that show students how math can be enchanting!

1. Calendar Magic 9
Impress your friends with this math multiplication magic trick from Murderous Maths! Kids tell a friend to put a square around 9 numbers on a calendar ( 3 x 3 box). Then, they say they can find the sum of the 9 numbers within the square in a flash! Abracadabra and alakazam! All they do is multiply the number in the center of the square by 9 and presto! They magically have the answer!


2. Shoe Math Magic
Multiply shoe size by 5 (must be a whole number, round up if you have to)
Add 50
Multiply by 20
Add 1015 (change each year / next year 1016)
Subtract the year you were born
First digit = shoe size
Last 2 digits = age


3. Magic Square
A Magic Square is a great tactile, thinking game for kids, that has them rearrange three numerals (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal) so they all equal one sum, a magical number! I was inspired by Love 2 Learn 2 Day’s milk cap magic square, so I made my own! Kids love the use of milk caps because they can slide and glide them around on a flat table top. Magic Squares are also a good way for kids to improve their addition skills using a group of addends, three whole numbers in an equation.


4. Perimeter Magic Triangles
Perimeter Magic Triangles
 help children improve their addition skills using three addends! All you need are 6 milk caps labeled 1-6. Kids slide the milk caps around, forming a triangle. Their goal is to have all 3 sides add up to equal the same sum.


5. Toothpick Math Puzzles
Geometric toothpick puzzles that help develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Lists of puzzles to try:
Puzzle Playground
Planet Seed
Toothpick Triangles


6. Art in Numbers
Practice your multiplication tables by creating grid paper designs from Sharynideas! Kids identify patterns in their multiplication tables. When they identify a repeating pattern, they create art! Check out the activity here! Also, visit NRich Math for a slightly different way to create designs from your times tables!


7. Walk Through Paper
Can you walk through a hole in an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper? Pass out a sheet of paper to all of your students and see if they can figure out how to cut a hole large enough for them to fit through. Then, show them this magical trick! Visit Pleacher or The Math Lab for the how to (and a free printable with lines to cut the “perfect” hole)! Afterwards, stretch your paper out and try to find the area and perimeter of your paper! How did it change? For younger students, this project can tie into a basic measuring unit. You can even fit through an index card! Click here for details!


8. Domino Math Puzzles
NRich Math has LOTS of fun math puzzles to help develop kids’ problem solving skills. All they need is a set of dominoes! Click here for the full list! Check out domino magic squares and rectangles here! If you don’t have dominoes, you can find printable versions online.
Featured above:
Domino Multiplication
Domino Magic Square (Rows, columns, and diagonal share the same sum)
Domino Magic Window (All sides equal same sum)


9. Subtraction Squares
Kids choose 4 numbers (anything they’d like) to write on the vertices of the larger square. Then, they just subtract (corner to corner). They write the differences on the next largest square’s corners (where it meets in between on the line) and so on…

The big surprise is their final square! Like magic, all of the corners are the exact same numeral! Inference: See if kids can predict what will be their mystifying number before solving all their squares!


10. X=
Magic Math Trick (x=2)
1. Think of a whole number 1 through 10
2. Double it!
3. Add 4
4. Divide by 2
5. Subtract the original number
Is the numeral 2?!
Visit The Math Lab for the algebra behind this math magic!

Magic Math Trick (x=18)
1. Choose a number, any number!
2. Multiply the number by 100.
3. Subtract the original number from the answer.
4. Add the digits in your answer.
Is your number 18?!

5 x 100 = 500
500 – 5 = 495
4 + 9 + 5 = 18

Now, let’s try a larger number!
1,467 x 100 = 146,700
146,700 – 1,467 = 145,233
1 + 4 + 5 + 2 + 3 + 3 = 18
It’s magic!

Erin Bittman is a fashion designer turned teacher. Check out her blog E is for Explore!