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Tarsia Jigsaws

On this page you will find links to all my Tarsia files, as well as hints and tips for making the most out of this amazing piece of free software.


Tarsia Troubleshootingkeyboard_arrow_up
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Please, please, please do not email me if you have any problems with the Tarsia Jigsaw software. I did not create the software, I do not know how it works, I am not affiliated with it in any way, I am merely a teacher who has written lots of free jigsaws using it and wants to share them. Any technical problems, please contact the creators, Hermitech Laboratory, via their website here.

Here are the solutions to some of the most common problems:

I get a load of random code when I try to open a jigsaw

Have you actually downloaded the free Tarsia Jigsaw software? You can get it on the creator's website here.

I have the software, but the jigsaws won't open when I click on them via your website

You can get it on the creator's website here.Try clicking on them, choosing Save instead of Open, and then opening them directly in the Tarsia Jigsaw software itself by going to File > Open.

That still did not work

Maybe try speaking to your tech people at work

I cannot display spaces between words on the jigsaw

On the Input screen, go to Style, and choose Text

I have a load of Tarsia Jigsaw files on my computer, but they won't open

Try opening the Tarsia Jigsaw software first, then opening to the jigsaws from within the programme itself by going to File > Open.

Is there a version of Tarsia available for the Mac?

I do not think so, but again, please contact the creators.

I cannot add images to my Tarsia Jigsaws

It is possible to do this, but it is a bit tricky. This blog post should help

How do I get the Tarsia Jigsaw Software?keyboard_arrow_up
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What are Tarsia Jigsaw files?

Tarsia is a piece of freely available software which allows teachers to create a wide range of jigsaws, domino and follow-me activities very easily.

Why are Tarisas so great?

I have been using Tarisa jigsaws for the past 11 years of my teaching because:
- You can easily create wide range of activities, including jigsaws of various shapes and sizes, dominoes, matching rectangular cards and follow-me cards.
- The teacher does not need to spend time cutting up the jigsaw as the software automatically jumbles up the pieces of the jigsaw in the Output section, thus allowing the teacher to simply print out a copy and hand it to the students to cut out and assemble
- Key Point: There are plenty of ways of adding richness and challenge to Tarsia jigsaw activities, as I explain in the "Twists" section below.

How can I get the software?

The software is available to download for free from via this link
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for “Formulator Tarsia Installation Package”
If that link isn't working, then you can also get the installer here

The license of use is here
And here is a comprehensive user manual
Screen shots and instructions are available via this link

Using Tarsias the Standard Waykeyboard_arrow_up
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Having selected what type of activity they wish to create, teachers use the Input screen to input as many questions and answers as they like. The software has a built-in equation editor to ensure that all mathematical symbols and expressions are available, and supports the importing of images. Teachers can then check their answers on the Table screen, before printing out the jumbled up version for the students. They can then either print out the solution or project it onto their interactive whiteboard for the students to check their answers. Completed jigsaws also make nice classroom displays. Please see the bottom of this page for a note about images in Tarsia Jigsaws.

Tarsia Jigsaw activities are incredibly versatile, and can be used for many mathematical topics and all ability levels. They promote group work and discussion, and provide a nice alternative to doing questions out of a textbook. They are an ideal way to revise or consolidate a topic. Furthermore, they can be differentiated – by writing questions of varying difficulty, you can ensure that all students can access some of the activity whilst also providing extension material for the most able.

Tarsia Twists and Variationskeyboard_arrow_up
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With a bit of tweaking, Tarsia puzzles can be made even more challenging, pushing your students to think even more about the topic in hand. Ideas include:

Tarsia: Convince Me – in my opinion, this is the ultimate way to use Tarsia Jigsaw activities! They work like this:
- Create a Tarsia (or adapt an original one) so that it contains (at least) 5 mistakes, and ensure these mistakes highlight common misconceptions students have with a particular topic
- Print off the solution slide and give it to your students (much less photocopying and no needing for scissors!)
- The student must find (at least) 5 incorrectly matched up elements, convince you that each one is incorrect explaining the mistake that has been made, and then decide what the answer should have been
- Better still, include a ? instead of an answer and challenge students to replace the ? with the correct answer
- Include a ?? instead of a question, and challenge students to come up with lots of different questions to replace ?? that could give the answer. A selection of these questions can then be given to other students to use as a rich, challenging, pupil-created homework.
This can all be set out beautifully in their exercise book, providing a challenging, rich, worthwhile activity :-)
Click here for an example of a Tarsia Convince Me activity on factors, multiples and primes

"No Answers" Worksheet – one criticism of Tarsia is that once the students have completed the puzzle they have no record/evidence of their work and also no revision material. Gill Hillitt has a solution... simply print out the "Table" page and blank out the answers. Hand this out to the students alongside the jigsaw and they can fill in their answers here as they go. When the jigsaw has been completed, they then have a lovely record of their work. Nice.
Top Tip: To blank out answers, delete them on the input screen, but add a space (press the space-bar), otherwise you may find the answer returns!

Supplementary Sheets – make Tarsia jigsaws much more versatile with supplementary sheets. These may involve pictures of statistical diagrams to interpret, or even secrets codes to reveal the mystery word. There are examples of all of these in my Tarsia jigsaw collection.

Distractors – when creating (or adapting) a Tarsia and you are on the Input screen, there are tabs labelled "d1", "d2", etc. Here you can place "distractors" - i.e. a question that does not match to any of the answers, or an answer that does not match to any question. These will always land on the outside of the final, successfully completed jigsaw, and provide an excellent extra challenge for students.

Missing Answers – choose a couple of the cards and leave the answer (or even the question!) blank so students have to fill them in for themselves

Deliberate Mistakes – announce at the start of the activity that you have made two mistakes (or better still, a mystery number of mistakes!) in the puzzle and students must assemble the jigsaw, identify the mistakes, and correct them

Non-unique Solutions – have a couple of the answers the same, so students have to use logic and thinking skills to assemble the entire puzzle correctly

Order of Difficulty – when students have finished the puzzle, get them to select the three most difficult pieces to match-up and explain what makes them tricky

Revision Lessons – get students to create Tarsia puzzles themselves on difficult topics (it is a free piece of software so can be installed on all school computers) and challenge each other to solve them

Tarsia Top Tipskeyboard_arrow_up
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1. Leaving spaces between text

You may have discovered that if you try to type words into the Tarsia jigsaw input screen (e.g. "I Love Maths"), when you come to print the jigsaw, they appear all together, with no spaces, like this: "ILoveMaths". To solve this, you need to go to Style in the top toolbar, and change from Math to Text. That should solve the problem.

2. To blank out answers

Very useful for creating worksheets as discussed above. Simply delete answers on the input screen, but add a space (press the space-bar), otherwise you may find the answer returns!

3 . Handling images in Tarsia and sharing them:

Good news – you can insert images into Tarsia. Bad news - Tarsia does not insert an image instead it inserts a link to the absolute address of the image. This means that if the images are then moved the jigsaw will lose contact and you will end up with those annoying red rectangles.

This is fine if you are creating a jigsaw to be shared on a network, so long as you first put all the images you want to use where they can be accessed by everyone you want to share with. However, if you wish to simply copy a jigsaw which contains images, then not only do the images need to be copied to where they will be accessible but also all the links will need to be changed! Alas, I have found no way of getting around this. You can find more details on adding images to Tarsia courtesy of Alan Catley by clicking here.

However, there is an alternative! Once you have placed the images in your Tarsia, you can convert Output page(s) into a pdf. This will then retain all your images, enabling you to share the file much more easily. The downside is that you won't be able to edit the Tarisa as it will be locked in the pdf, but this might be an ideal solution to get round the image issue. A nice, free pdf converter is PrimoPdf.

Mr Barton's Tarsia Jigsaw Fileskeyboard_arrow_up
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Please Note: I have organised all my Tarsia Jigsaws for Key Stage 3 and GCSE so they are categorised under the relevant subject area. You can find them all under the Lessons section of the Topic you are looking up.

As ever, if you have any Tarsia jigsaws to share, please email me!

Additional Tarsia Jigsaw Bundles:

Tarsia GCSE Revision

Core 1
Core 2
Core 3
Core 4

Stats 1
Stats 2
Stats 3
Stats 4
Stats 5


Decision 1


Tarsia Key Contributorskeyboard_arrow_up
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These jigsaw files are proving immensely popular and extremely useful, so if you have any of your own jigsaw files which you would like to share, then please drop me an email at [email protected] . The more the merrier! Thank you...

Many thanks to the following people for kindly donating their jigsaws to the bundle:
     Peter Brooks, Plant Hill Arts College, Manchester
    Judith de Villiers, Folkestone Academy, Kent
    Steve Wren, Comberton Village College, Cambridge
    Nisha Ganatra, Lea Manor High School, Luton
    Samantha Green, The Cheltenham Ladies College, Cheltenham
    Susan Verity
    John White, Secondary Maths Consultant, Swindon
    Karen Walker, Poltair School, St. Austell
    Jenny Andrews, Richard Hale School, Hertford
    Sam Powell, Sheldon Heath Community Arts College, Birmingham
    Nyima Drayang, Seaham School of Technology
    William Leonard, Bullerswood, Bromley
    Vikki Sutton, Holmesdale Technology College
    Paul Tyreman
    James Gatrell, St John Plessington Catholic College
    Kevin Alderson, Newcastle College
    Gill Hillitt, Joseph Chamberlain College, Birmingham
    Sarah Pearson, Taipei Eurpoean School
    Simon Young, Erith School
    Steve Sherman and Pupils, Tytherington High School
    Alan Catley
Your contributions are very much appreciated!