In an article by Belle Beth Cooper that falls under the “Life Hacking” tag, she explains how making connections is a large part of how our brains come up with new ideas. She quotes Steve Jobs as once saying, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” This is one of the reasons I think using hexagonal thinking with my students is so powerful, and also why I have recommended products like Dinkee, Codenames, and Anaxi.

Russel Tarr has a game on ClassTools.net called, “Connect Fours,” which is based on a BBC game show called, “Only Connect.” In the game, 16 clues are presented on a 4×4 grid. Players must find relationships between the words, and separate the 16 into 4 groups by their connections. Then they have to identify what the words in each of the 4 groups have in common. This could be used to review vocabulary, name associations between people or events in history, draw lines between stories or themes in literature, etc… Click here to play Tarr’s sample game.

If you don’t have a premium subscription to Class Tools, you will not be able to save any “Connect Fours” games you create. Another option is to use the PuzzGrid website, which is full of user-submitted games. You can challenge yourself or your students to play the ones that are already posted, or submit your own. (I think it’s amusing that, beneath the question asking if your puzzle is “of interest to a general audience,” the following advice appears: “Teachers: please note that your grids are almost never of interest to a general knowledge audience. Please do not choose Yes above. Your grid will still be accessible at the URL.“)

Although playing PuzzGrid can be quite fun for word nerds like me, I think the true value of this would be to have student groups create their own versions for submission. If you are looking for more ideas for games to engage children, don’t forget this article I wrote for NEO on how to mine talk shows for entertaining ways to review or introduce subjects in class.


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