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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers
Magic Squares

The Chinese were fascinated by numbers and played a game called magic squares. 


Uses basic and advanced procedures while performing the processes of computation, adding and subtracting whole numbers.

Created by Lisa Randall
Location: P.S. 305 
District: 13
Grade: 3rd grade
Subject: Math

If you have any questions regarding this activity, please contact Lisa at: L1COCO@aol.com


Students will be able to add whole numbers.


  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Ruler
  1. Using the numbers between 1 and 9 only once, put a number in each box so that when each set of numbers is added vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, it will equal 15.
  2. Demonstrate by creating a large square on chart paper or chalkboard. 
  3. Section the squares into 9 smaller boxes and put the number 5 in the center square.
  4. Have children arrange the rest of the numbers 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9 in the squares until the columns add up to 15. 

As the students master the smaller set of numbers you can increase the numbers to double digits, you can create a subtraction magic square etc. This activity allows you to have fun while being creative and observant of your students!

Final Activities: 

Have students fill in blank magic squares with larger numbers.
Have students invent their own magic square, triangles, rectangles etc.

Teacher Notes:

This lesson was great in helping me identify the students who were having trouble with adding whole numbers. I did find, however, that many of my lower functioning students often had trouble when figuring out the squares by themselves. Some of them became frustrated because it was hard for them to figure the answers out quickly. For those students, I did not give a time limit. I had them take their time and for a few students, I paired them up with other students so that they could get an explanation that they would understand using peer terminology.

The magic squares activity was an extremely fun activity for the students in my class. All of my students enjoyed this activity very much, higher functioning and lower functioning alike.

Overall, the students enjoyed this activity, and were able to use this skill in other math area such as associative properties etc.


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