3 New Strategies for Implementing Digital Jigsaw Puzzles in Upper Elementary

Use digital jigsaw puzzles to teach students reading and ELA skills.Extra, Extra read all about it! Today we are providing…well EXTRA!

We’ve had so many people downloading and reviewing our Digital Jigsaws that we wanted to spend some quality time digging into additional strategies for using these already super engaging resources.

What are Digital Jigsaws?

Our Digital Jigsaws for upper elementary are created using a combination of high-interest images, reading prompts, and Google Forms. We have a whole bundle of reading comprehension puzzles that can be used in class, with small groups, virtually shared with students, or even practiced in whole group settings.

Many people assume that these puzzles are just for review, but you can use the individual puzzles to introduce new content as well, and with so many puzzles, themes, and skills to choose from, you can try the puzzles in different ways throughout the year.

Digital Jigsaws are easy to assign to students since the links can be shared through any online learning management system, and the Google Forms are self-checking as students earn digital puzzle pieces for their correct answers.

If you haven’t downloaded your first Digital Jigsaw yet, then you need to take a look at this totally FREE Figurative Language Digital Jigsaw. Once you try it out, come on back here and learn about 3 new strategies you may consider as you plan how you’ll use your new Digital Jigsaw in the classroom.

3 New Strategies to Try with Digital Jigsaw Puzzles

Challenging Advanced Students

One of the most beautiful parts of these Digital Jigsaws is that they are self-checking, which means that students don’t need us to tell them the right answers.

As a way to engage some of your early finishers or advanced students, give them a Digital Jigsaw and ask them to come up with a way to teach the concepts of the puzzle to their peers in a way that will help their classmates get the most answers correct. Encourage them with questions about looking for patterns or keywords. Maybe they notice that certain topics seem to be answered in the same way. 

There is only one really important rule. The student leaders can’t tell the class about any of the passages. They can’t say what they’re about or give away specific answers.

Give these students a chance to work their way through the Digital Jigsaw more than once and discuss HOW they knew the right answers. Ask them for ideas about either how you can teach those ideas to the other students, or give them the opportunity to teach those ideas to the other students.

For example, your students may notice that in the Author’s Purpose Digital Jigsaw, the passages that seemed like they would be found in a science lesson were informational. That is a good tip to share with other students. Follow up with these students by asking them to elaborate on their thinking.

You can also assign these student leaders small groups to teach. Give them a chance to share their knowledge with other students and encourage them to cheer on their peers as they try the puzzles. When everyone else has completed the puzzle, consider the questions that were most challenging for the other students. Ask the student leaders if there is a way they could have prepared their teams better for those questions.

Puzzle Piece Picking for those Competitive Students

When introducing new content use whiteboards and markers, and get the whole class involved in answering the Digital Jigsaw questions. In addition to trying to answer the question, students will also try to guess which puzzle piece they are going to earn. If they get the question right, they will get 2 points, and if they get the placement right, they’ll get 1 additional point. The student with the most points at the end wins.

  1. 3 new ways to use digital jigsaw puzzles in upper elementary pick a piece activityTo conduct this variation of instruction, start by putting a 4×4 square on the board and place a letter in each box. See the image for reference.
  2. Start with the first question, and ask students which box they think the puzzle piece will show up in. 
  3. Ask students to document their answers on the corner of their whiteboard. 
  4. Then bring the question up on the board, read through it, and give students an opportunity to answer using their whiteboards. Remind students to hide their answers from everyone as you don’t want someone stealing your answer!
  5. Once students have had time to answer, ask them to raise their boards and share their answers. 
  6. Take a quick note of the answers your students provide and put that answer into the answer spot on the Google Form. 
  7. If the answer is correct, a puzzle piece will appear. Have students record 2 points if they got the answer right and 1 point if they earned the puzzle piece in the slot they had chosen before answering the question. Example: If James wrote down the letter ‘p’, and the slot appeared in the space in the bottom right corner (as per our image), then James gets an additional point.
  8. Continue to work through the questions. Whoever has the most points at the end wins.

Teacher Tip: If you want, you can keep the students’ scores to use as real-world math equations later. You could use their scores to work on fractions, multiplication, division, etc. Students could even come up with their own word problems based on this activity.

Change the Language

This idea was actually inspired by a question I received from another teacher.

The gist…ask students who speak other languages to translate the passages and questions into their native language.

When you download a Digital Jigsaw, the text portion is totally editable, so you can easily adjust these for students whose first language is not English. The only things that can’t change are the images that have the answer choices and the pictures associated with the puzzle. Despite that challenge, it would still be a great experience to brainstorm how you can overcome that with students. Maybe you create printouts with answer options in the other languages or maybe the answer choices will work even though they are in English. 

As we try to make our classrooms more equitable for all, we strive to provide differentiated learning to all students from all cultures and backgrounds. Give students the opportunity to help you adapt some of your Digital Jigsaws into other languages when the content is appropriate to do so. Obviously, not all content is going to work for this type of adaptation, but it is definitely something to think about and a really fun way to use the strengths of your students to benefit others.

As you consider these additional strategies for using Digital Jigsaw resources in your lessons, don’t forget to take advantage of our bundles. By getting a whole group of puzzles at a lower price, you’ll have the ability to try the Digital Jigsaws using several different strategies over the course of the year. Let us know which one works best for you, and if you come up with any new strategies of your own, let us know in the comments.

Want to take a closer look at the bundles? Here you go!


Reading Skills Digital Jigsaw Bundle

ELA Skills Digital Jigsaw Bundle


Leave a Reply