Designed and produced by Paul Godding in the summer of 2010, the 7puzzle game is playable by all ages and abilities.
It has been specifically designed to be flexible as it is perfect for children aged 7 years and above, but also extremely challenging for older children, adults and the more experienced puzzle enthusiast.
As the 7puzzle game continues to play an integral part of our workshops, it has become very popular with children, teaching staff and parents.
We were extremely proud when the Techniquest Science Discovery Centre in Cardiff approached us and asked permission to produce a larger version of the game to become a permanent exhibit at the centre (see below). Since being unveiled in 2011, it has been earning rave reviews by the general public and visiting schools.
We were also very flattered when receiving an e-mail from an American university professor praising the 7puzzle game and the general use of games & puzzles in education.
This feedback can be viewed further down the page.
The 7puzzle game is a unique product as the contents of the game have always been kept in a distinctive eco-friendly bag. As with any game, we like to keep the playing board clean and tidy, and make it extremely difficult for the owner to lose the playing pieces.
From the beginning, we housed the game and its extras in a black & lilac bag but a fresh new look has seen the game move with the times and it looks even more gorgeous than before in its new purple home!
How to Play
The playing board is a 7 by 7 grid of 49 squares, each square containing a number, colour and shape. When taking on the challenges, players must place all of the 14 playing pieces (7 of which are straight and 7 angled) onto the board, therefore leaving seven spaces.
The intention is that everything on the board will be covered up, except seven of a certain element, which may be a particular shape, colour or type of number, depending on the challenge being undertaken.
Most of the challenges, of which there are 42 altogether, are number-related. There are also a few easier shape challenges and some tougher colour challenges to complement the numeracy aspect. The 7puzzle game challenges should be attempted in the order shown on the instruction sheet as they become more difficult as you progress.
For instance, Challenge No.1 requires you to leave 7 even numbers uncovered. As the board contains 30 even numbers in total, this is quite an easy task to start off your 7puzzle adventure and ideal for the younger player who can be guided through, and taught about, even numbers at the same time.
For instance, the teacher could ask the class to find all the even numbers in each row and column on the board before attempting the puzzle. This type of learning activity could take place before each number challenge.
One of the many possible solutions for Challenge No.1 is shown below:
Use in the Classroom
As the challenges increase in difficulty, the 7puzzle game can continue to be used as a teaching aid, as described above, whether it is to improve mental maths skills or perhaps to reinforce existing knowledge by creating challenges against other players.
Timed challenges could be set or even head-to-head contests can take place if there are two or more copies available.
Teachers could even use the playing board to introduce concepts and theories of probability as well as fractions & percentages, decimal places and maybe even calculations involving area & perimeter.
The latest version of the playing board, from 2017
When undertaking the shape and colour challenges, it is quite obvious what needs to be left uncovered on the playing board, but it may not be so straightforward when taking on one of the 30 number challenges.
Players may not be aware of how many options are available on the board, so they have been listed here. As mentioned earlier, teachers could even go through the various options with a class in a mini-lesson before attempting a particular challenge.
This list can be referenced either as an educational tool or perhaps used as a check-list to see if a challenge has been completed correctly. It is commonly used as an argument-settler, just like the dictionary in Scrabble!
Note: Remember, there are many more of each type of number in existence. We are only discussing the range of numbers present on the playing board.
For the initial set of number challenges, there are more than seven options available. The actual amount is given in brackets below. Players are therefore allowed to leave any seven of the numbers uncovered to complete that task:
- Challenge 1: Even numbers (30) 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 28, 30, 32, 36, 40, 42, 44, 48, 50, 54, 56, 60, 64, 66, 70, 72, 80, 84
- Challenge 2: Multiples of 3 (22) 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 42, 45, 48, 54, 60, 63, 66, 72, 81, 84
- Challenge 3: Odd numbers (19) 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 21, 25, 27, 33, 35, 45, 49, 55, 63, 77, 81
- Challenge 4: Multiples of 4 (18) 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 56, 60, 64, 72, 80, 84
- Challenge 6: Multiples of 5 (14) 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 70, 80
- Challenge 8: Multiples of 6 (13) 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72, 84
- Challenge 10: Factors of 60 (11) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60
- Challenge 11: Multiples of 7 (12) 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, 84
- Challenge 12: Factors of 84 (11) 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 14, 21, 28, 42, 84
- Challenge 13: Multiples of 8 (10) 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80
- Challenge 14: Factors of 72 (11) 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 72
- Challenge 15: Multiples of 9 (9) 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81
- Challenge 16: Factors of 48 (9) 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 48
- Challenge 17: Square numbers (8) 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81
- Challenge 18: Factors of 36 (8) 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 36
- Challenge 19: Multiples of 10 (8) 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80
- Challenge 20: Single-digit numbers (8) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
- Challenge 21: Factors of 80 (9) 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 16, 20, 40, 80
To successfully complete the rest of the number challenges, players must leave uncovered all seven numbers shown below:
- Challenge 23: Factors of 66 2, 3, 6, 11, 22, 33, 66
- Challenge 25: Factors of 70 2, 5, 7, 10, 14, 35, 70
- Challenge 26: Multiples of 11 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77
- Challenge 28: Factors of 24 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24
- Challenge 30: Factors of 54 2, 3, 6, 9, 18, 27, 54
- Challenge 31: Multiples of 12 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84
- Challenge 33: Factors of 42 2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 21, 42
- Challenge 35: Factors of 40 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20, 40
- Challenge 36: Prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17
- Challenge 38: Factors of 56 2, 4, 7, 8, 14, 28, 56
- Challenge 41: Numbers in the 20’s 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28
The final number challenge, Challenge 42, is unique in that it requires players to leave uncovered any seven numbers that total 100.
This challenge can be expanded so that any total from 50 through to 300 can become the target (see Target Challenges below).
Shape & Colour Challenges
As well as the above, the other 12 challenges (4 shape & 8 colour) are numbered as follows:
5.stars; 7.heptagons; 9.squares; 22.pink; 24.yellow; 27.green; 29.brown; 32.lilac; 34.red; 37.blue; 39.one of each colour; 40.circles.
Choose a random number from 50 to 300 inclusive. Give your opponent 5 minutes to place all 14 pieces onto the board and see how close s/he can get to the target number you set when adding the seven numbers that remain uncovered.
Can they actually hit the exact target number?
Now it’s your turn! Your opponent now sets a different target number. When time is up, the person who was nearest to their target number is the winner.
In a classroom (or team) situation with multiple copies available, the teacher or referee sets the same target number for all teams taking part. Again, the team closest to the target number, at the end of a pre-determined time, is the victor.
Susan Seay PhD is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the United States. She works in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction within the School of Education at UAB.
Sue came across the 7puzzle game from a Twitter friend called Jim Wilder (@wilderlab), who also works at a school in Alabama and had already bought and enjoyed lots of my games to uses them with his student teachers.
After seeing, playing and being won over by the 7puzzle game, Sue ordered a few copies for herself and sent me the following e-mail regarding the general use of games & puzzles in the classroom, a view we totally agree on as you can imagine!
The following is a fascinating read from a lady who certainly knows how to engage and inspire her university students – our educators of the future:
I am planning to use the 7puzzle game with classroom teachers I work with. I am trying to get teachers I teach in my university classes (and work with in K-12 public school classrooms) to use games as part of their teaching repertoire for several reasons. Having fun, solving problems, and developing logic while acquiring mathematical knowledge is one of the main reasons, but just as important to me, is the opportunity for children to develop autonomy.
In the U.S., many teachers, most actually, tell children where to sit, what to do, when to do it, how to do it … you get the idea. Using games and letting children decide which game to play, who goes first, who gets a certain color marker, what rules they mutually decide to use while playing, etc., without the teacher making those decisions for them, is an easy way for teachers to begin letting students think for themselves, rather than the teacher being the only one in the room actually making decisions and solving problems that arise.
Games are brilliant for developing physical, social and logico-mathematical knowledge. In the U.S., our educational system seems to be evermore in the clutches of businessmen and profiteers who only want to sell canned, scripted curriculum – one size fits all and boring as hell. Games are important to learning, relatively cheap compared to texts and curriculum packages, and, best of all, children LOVE playing games!
I’d really love to learn about other games you might have and how teachers in the UK are using the games. I am purchasing these myself (unfortunately, there aren’t many funds available for professors to buy materials at most universities these days), so am a little limited in what I can purchase, but I would love to see if some of the schools I work with would buy some of your games for their teachers to use in classrooms or in after-school programs. I will let you know if I can persuade some schools to purchase your games.
Some of the mathematical terms used during the game, and for our daily number puzzles at 7puzzleblog.com, are briefly explained here just in case you get asked by younger members of the family. Many other useful GCSE Maths terms can be located further down:
- + add, plus, sum.
- – subtract, take away, minus, difference.
- × multiply, times, product.
- ÷ divide, share, quotient.
- Integer: a whole number.
- Even number: any number which ends in 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0 – so it is divisible by 2.
- Odd number: any number which ends in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 – not divisible by 2.
- Multiple: these are numbers in a certain times table (e.g. 21 is a multiple of 7).
- Factor: a number which can divide exactly into another number (e.g. 5 is a factor of 20).
- Square number: the answer when a number is multiplied by itself (e.g. 36 is a square number as 6×6 or 6² = 36).
- Square root: the reverse of a square number. The number that needs to be multiplied by itself to arrive at your answer (e.g. √36 = 6, because 6×6 or 6² = 36).
- Cube number: the answer when a number is multiplied by itself, and itself again (e.g. 8 is a cube number as 2×2×2 or 2³ = 8).
- Single-digit number: a whole number (integer) from 1 to 9, just one digit.
- Double-digit number: a whole number (integer) from 10 through to 99, containing two digits.
- Prime number: a number that is only divisible by 1 and itself, no other factors.
- Triangular number: any of the series of numbers 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, … obtained by continually adding the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. (0+1=1, +2=3, +3=6, +4=10 …)
- Circle: you should know what this is, but Challenge No.40 is one of the toughest!
- Square: a four-sided figure with each side being of equal length and each angle being a right-angle (measuring 90 degrees), therefore adding up to 360 degrees. With these characteristics, a square is a type of regular polygon.
- Star pentagon: is the shape of a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes and each internal angle being 36 degrees (also called a pentagram). A five-sided polygon could be created from this by joining the five points with lines, and this would be called a pentagon.
- Heptagon: a seven-sided figure with each length the same and each angle the same, therefore this is also a type of regular polygon.
Examples of some other regular polygons are equilateral triangle (3 sides), hexagon (6 sides), octagon (8 sides), nonagon (9 sides) and decagon (10 sides).
For a list of many other mathematical terms, ideal for GCSE revision, click here.
Please get in touch if you wish to invest in a copy of the 7puzzle game which retails at £24 per game, plus £5 P&P.
The easiest way to make a purchase is to click firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
We hope you enjoy the 7puzzle game.