Rob has just finished a brilliant mini-unit on Israel for us, his first task for students is a jigsaw puzzle of the main geographical features of the country. He has used a piece of freeware called Formulator Tarsia, from the Hermitech Laboratory, originally designed to create maths problems, but it has a number of cross-curricular applications.
Once downloaded and installed, it is relatively simple to use, it took me about twenty minutes to get the hang of it, you can choose from three types of puzzle, jigsaw, dominoes and card.
When you have chosen your puzzle type, you can type in the contents for your puzzle, this is in the input screen, when you have completed one field, click on the next number in the sidebar and a new input field will appear.
You can check your puzzle contents by clicking the table tab at the bottom of the screen.
Clicking on the output tab will reveal the puzzle that students will be given, of course, you could cut these up before the lesson, but the puzzle will already be unsorted.
Clicking on the solution tab will reveal the solution to your puzzle; particularly useful if you don’t want to solve it yourself, or want to provide students who are struggling with the finished answer.
You can print off the pages, with the exception of the input page, I haven’t got a printer so I use Primo PDF to print to a PDF file , this means I can print it later, as well as saving an electronic copy in this format.
You can save your puzzle by pressing the disc icon, but you will not be able to open these on a College computer, this file will only be recognised by the Tarsia programme, hence the need to print a copy.
This is an example of a parquet jigsaw of 12 pieces that I produced on European capitals, of course this is the solution!
What I really like about the programme is that you can insert images, here is an example of an 8 piece dominoes activity solution, that I produced using Ordnance Survey map symbols.
To insert images, in the input screen, click on the image icon at the top of the screen. The image is automatically resized for the puzzle, so you need to think carefully about the quality of the image you use.
I think this has legs, it could be used to produce simple a starter or plenary exercise, alternatively a more complex puzzle could be produced as a mini-topic review.
Let me know what you think…