Games, K-12, spatial reasoning

Gifts for the Gifted — Wooden Calendar Puzzle

Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) every November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my 2021 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. 

Welcome to my first “Gifts for the Gifted” post for 2022! Today’s recommendation was suggested by a reader of the blog, Cara M., in Kansas. She e-mailed that she uses this puzzle in her K-5 gifted classroom. “I chucked the answer guide when it arrived, and they are currently making their own with photos of their solutions.” 

I love the idea of the students making their own answer guide! Of course, I like to try out each of these recommendations myself, so I ordered one for our house. When I did a search for “wooden calendar puzzle” I found many options, so I opted for the colorful version below. It didn’t even come with any answers, so there was no danger of any of us cheating!

My husband is always intrigued by the spatial puzzles I get, so it was no surprise that he immediately set to work to try to figure out how to position the pieces to show that day’s date. It took him about ten minutes, and he stated that he really likes those kind of challenges.

Of course, one of the fun parts about this is that it’s a different puzzle each day of the year. You may recall that I’ve shared a digital version of this in the past that’s hosted on the Mathigon website. But it’s admittedly more fun to have some tangible pieces to move around.

I like to try to find independent toy stores to link to for my recommendations, but the versions I’ve seen are mostly at Walmart and Amazon. You can also find some on Etsy, though. And if you have a makerspace, you can try to create your own with this 3d printer file and/or lasercut file. There is even a “popper” version of the calendar puzzle that you can order for a bit more.

As you can see from my rubric, this is a good game to practice spatial skills, and has great replayability as there are basically 365 challenges. As for durability, if you order a version with a box or bag, that will help to keep the pieces together. If I was a classroom teacher right now, I would have this as a center or option for early finishers.

Thanks to Cara for the recommendation! For a similar game (also recommended by a reader), check out last year’s post on Genius Square. Tune in next week for another suggestion, and/or click this link to see the archives from past years.

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