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 2022 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students.
I’m back again with this year’s Gifts for the Gifted series! We are starting out strong with a game from Smart Games called, Cats & Boxes. It’s for ages 7 and up, and it’s seriously one of the most adorable game ideas I’ve ever seen.
Though it’s a one-player game, Cats & Boxes is similar to many of the other logic/spatial games in my archives. It’s fun to play with two people who either work cooperatively or take turns trying each of the scaffolded challenges. If you are a teacher or parent, I strongly urge you to play it along with your students or children, modeling the thinking you use and spending some time to give them positive feedback when they overcome challenges. Also, I can tell you after years of experience that kids will always say the first challenge is too easy, skip to the back to do something harder, get frustrated when they can’t solve the harder one, and give up — if you don’t encourage them to go through the challenges in order.
As you can see, the game comes with 5 adorable cats as well as boxes that are stuck to tiles. The challenge booklet shows you how to set everything up to begin each challenge and your goal is to pick up the box pieces and turn them so that each cat ends up in a box (because you know how much cats love boxes!)
You can only move one cardboard “island” at a time, and, of course the challenges get more difficult as you progress. Unlike games like Rush Hour, you aren’t sliding the pieces; you’re actually picking them up and turning them so they can fit in other spots. And you can only pick up one piece at a time. As I often admit, I struggle with spatial puzzles, so this one was tough for me. Fortunately, they start you off slow by giving hints about the first pieces that should be moved. And though I struggled, it was productive struggle (which our kids need more of!) so it was extremely satisfying when I solved each one.
Another thing I like about this game is that it comes with a compact plastic case which fits all of the pieces and the challenge/instruction book, so it’s great for a classroom or kid’s room without taking up too much space or quickly getting lost. It’s even great for travel.
You can get all of the information you need, including extra challenges to download and links to purchasing Cats & Boxes, on the Smart Games website. While you’re there, I encourage you to also look at some of their award-winning games, like Camelot Jr., which I included on my Gifts for the Gifted list way back in 2012!