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A New Daily Math Puzzle - DIGITS

Updated: May 11, 2023

Were you also addicted to Wordle for a while? Or maybe you still are?

I like puzzles a lot and I was definitely hooked on Wordle for a chunk of time, playing it daily. My dad and I came up with our strategies and we liked working together on it when we were visiting each other. Puzzles can bring people together to reach a common goal.

I think puzzles are also a good way to let yourself take a break from typical daily life and challenge your brain. Sometimes you can learn something from puzzles, too. I must admit that I learned a few new vocabulary words after playing Wordle. A "trope" is a word or expression used in a figurative sense, for example. Who knew?! Not me!

The new Digits puzzle from the New York Times

Well, move over, Wordle! There's a new puzzle in town from The New York Times. It's called Digits and once again, I'm hooked! This one is a math puzzle.

I like this puzzle because it makes you think about numbers and operations. And boy, do I love asking my students to think about numbers and operations!

Using estimation skills can also help you figure out which solution may work. I build estimation skills into my math sessions often because it is a great way to build number sense and a great way to check calculations quickly. For example, if a child is still learning long division and is still unsure of the method, with a problem like 2,219 divided by 7, a child with good estimation skills would be able to look at the problem and estimate that the answer will be around 300. This way, if the child gets 317 after following the steps for long division, the child will feel more sure about the answer because the estimated answer was 300. If the child gets an answer of 32 after the long division, then there's a way to know that something went wrong with the long division. Mistakes happen. We're all human. Estimating helps us know when to check our work.

The Digits puzzle asks 5 different puzzles each day. For each one, you get a target number and you need to reach it (or get as close as you can to it) using the six numbers given. You're allowed to use all of the numbers (but do not have to use all of them) and all the operations as needed.

I can tell they choose the numbers very thoughtfully. For some puzzles, there are many different tempting things to try. I also appreciate how they allow you to try things to see how it would work and backtrack if needed. I always encourage my students to try things.

Here are two of the five puzzles from yesterday:

Reach the target number of 173 using the numbers and operations given. You do not have to use all of the numbers and operations.

Reach the target number of 328 using the numbers and operations given. You do not have to use all of the numbers and operations.

Sometimes, the way I solve one puzzle may be different than the way another person solves the same puzzle. This is yet another reason to love these! Why do something one specific way when there are many ways to approach it?

After solving the puzzles, you get a fun summary page, such as below. It shows the operations that you chose to use for each puzzle.

Results from a Digits puzzle

Thank you, to The New York Times! I suggest that students play with Digits over the summer to keep up their math skills, or even build their math skills. They may even have some fun with it!

Reach out with any questions you may have.


Melissa Agocs

Online Math Tutoring and Enrichment


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