Cats and Canaries

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In this math puzzle game, learners work together to use algebraic reasoning and fun clues for solving word puzzles. Groups of 3 to 6 learners share 6 cards that offer information each person reads to the group. Each set of cards can be used to form a system of two simultaneous equations—a math concept that has many real-world applications. There are five sets of cards for five different games. The instructions include "Algebra Notes" that explain an approach to solving the first problem. An extension is to make up new versions for other groups to play.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Game


Materials List (per group of students)

  • pencil and paper
  • calculators
  • activity cards (from PDF)


  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
      • Patterns
      • Variables and Expressions
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Games


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • read

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1998