The Quiet Game

Suzanne's Math Lessons

As a middle school teacher I used this game at the beginning of the school year to help introduce the cooperation that I expected from each group member. If needed I would use the same game from time to time to reinforce the idea as we re-configured groups.
     --Suzanne Alejandre

Completed puzzles look like this:

To make the puzzle sets print 9 (or as many groups as you will have in your class) of each of the puzzles:

Cut out the puzzle pieces and put one set of 12 pieces (Puzzles 1, 2, 3, and 4) together. Use a paper clip or an envelope or a plastic baggie to organize the puzzle pieces.

Remember to have one set of 12 pieces ready for each group of 4 students.


Organize the students into groups of 4. Random grouping can be done by collecting homework papers, sorting them into 9 (or 8 or 7) piles of 4 to create the number of groups of 4 required for the activity. Other techniques include handing out numbers at the door as the students enter or having students "count off."

Students should be sitting facing each other with nothing on their tables or desks. Emphasize the physical characteristics of a working group. Students face each other. When they work on a task together, they often lean toward each other. They look at each other as they talk together.

Before passing out the puzzle packets, communicate the following instructions of The Quiet Game:

  1. One student in each group will receive the game packet.
  2. No one is to touch the packet except the designated student.
  3. The designated student will take the puzzle pieces out and sort them according to the letter on the back of each piece. There will be:
    • 3 puzzle pieces with the letter A for student 1
    • 3 puzzle pieces with the letter B for student 2
    • 3 puzzle pieces with the letter C for student 3
    • 3 puzzle pieces with the letter D for student 4
  4. This is a silent game. Once the game begins, no one may speak.
  5. After each student receives 3 puzzle pieces (that will NOT make a square), they need to look at the pieces that their group members have.
  6. Students should be thinking:
    Will one of my puzzle pieces help someone in my group make a square?
  7. Everyone is encouraged to OFFER.
  8. No one may TAKE. They may ACCEPT a puzzle piece to use if OFFERED.
  9. Once anyone has 4 puzzle pieces, they should assess what they have, look at their group member's pieces and offer their extra puzzle piece to the person in their group who can best use it.
  10. The object of the game is for the group to have four squares of equal size; one assembled in front of each of the four students in the group.

As the groups work the teacher should circulate quietly observing. Reinforce the rules of the game if necessary.


After The Quiet Game is finished discuss the difference between:


If appropriate take the opportunity to reinforce any guidelines that you have in your classroom and/or have students help you establish those guidelines.

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