HOTS is Higher Order Thinking Skills, I think... As for a puzzle template, I just draw out our room number, or 3 for 3rd grade, or a boot/cowboy hat/turtle/fish/whatever my theme is-shape using a couple of pieces of poster board (free hand, not perfect!) and then divide it into the number of pieces I need (1 per student), and I use way lines, zig-zag lines, etc. to separate the pieces. Then I cut them out. If you are worried about them using the wrong side, just stamp something on the back or draw lines or scribbles on the back so they don't use that side. They can decorate it w/ their name, favorite color, lots of simple things to tell about themselves. The fun begins w/ putting it together. When it is done, we discuss team-work and how we will need to work together all year... As for ME - I am stealing the index card and 4 facts/one false fact idea!! I love it!