When I taught young Gifted and Talented students, we referred to convergent thinking as “Detective Thinking,” and Deduckto would have been a perfect supplement to those lessons where we would often do logic grids and other types of puzzles that involved making inferences based on clues. But this game is not just great for the classroom. It’s also a nice small family game. Designed for 2-4 players, the age range of Deduckto is 8+, but I think that there are definitely some 6-year-olds who would easily be able to play this game with one or two of the modifications I recommend later in this article.

Billed as “A Quacking Deduction Game,” Deduckto is an adorable card game in which you use visual clues to figure out the description of your suspect. Each player has five cards the player can see and one card the player holds backwards so only the other players can see. Your backwards card is your suspect whose attributes you will try to guess as you obtain clues during the game.

As you can see from the Suspect Guide card in the lower left of the picture above, there are 7 different characters, with 7 disguise options, and 7 possible locations. When it’s your turn, you choose one of the 5 cards that you can see in your hand to display to the group. The other players, who can see your suspect card, tell you if your selection shares any of its 3 attributes with your suspect card by responding only with a “yes” or a “no”. If it has something in common, you can place it in a group of “Yes” clues in front of you. If there are no attributes in common, you set it in your “No” pile. As your “Yes” and “No” clues accumulate, you can start narrowing down your list of suspects. You win by being the first to successfully describe your suspect card. For example, “Pinky the Pig, with a mustache disguise, in the desert.”

To discourage you from guessing too soon, there are consequences for incorrect guesses. The first time this happens, you have to turn over all of the clues you’ve obtained so far in either your “Yes” or “No” pile. The second time, you must turn over the other pile. And the third time, you are eliminated from the game.

As you play, you’ll begin to realize that the “No” clues can almost be more valuable than the “Yes” ones, as they can help you eliminate a lot of attributes at once. The challenge, of course, is trying to keep track of the information you’ve received from the clues in your head. One modification that my daughter suggested would be to laminate or make copies of the Suspect Guide cards (each player gets one to refer to during the game) so you can physically mark off attributes as you eliminate them. This would definitely help younger players. The other challenge little ones might have is holding the 6 cards in their hand without accidentally looking at their own suspect. You could remedy this by giving them something to lean the card against in front of them (such as a DIY mini easel) or making a DIY card holder similar to this.

As a teacher, I would first demonstrate by playing the game in front of the students and showing the class the suspect card while I try to guess the description. I would model my thinking and logic as I get more clues and make my final guess. Then you could reverse it so that only you know the suspect, and you give the class clues so they can try to guess. Parents could also do this to help their children develop their inferencing skills.

Deduckto is one of those games that takes a moment to learn, only about 15 minutes to play, and then you want to play it again because you think you’ve learned some new strategies that will surely help you win this time…

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!

## Sumplete

Maybe the site formerly known as Twitter is circling the drain, but I’m still getting some wonderful resources from it. Case in point is a recent thread started by @kathyhen_ where she asked for more ideas for fast finishers in her class. She helpfully provided a doc that she gives her students, and then many people responded with additional suggestions.

Though many of the sites are already part of my Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep and Brainteasers and Puzzles collections, I did see a few that I need to add. One of those is called, Sumplete.

To play Sumplete, you simply click on numbers in each column and row to “X” them out so that they will actually add up to the sums on the right and bottom of the grid. In the example above, 19 is bolded, which means that row already adds up to it, so you don’t need to delete any numbers. However, the middle row needs a number deleted so that it will correctly add up to 16. I can click on the 5, but I need to make sure the 5’s column will then also equal 10 when it’s deleted, as it does.

The Sumplete page gives more detailed instructions if needed. As you can also see in the above example, there is an arrow next to 3×3, which you can click on to select larger puzzle grids. Once you get to 6×6, you can also choose the difficult level. The most difficult is 9×9 master.

Interestingly, the Sumplete page mentions that the puzzle was created in collaboration with ChatGPT, and you can read all about the steps the creator, Daniel Tait of Hey, Good Game, went through for this process. It inspires me to try my own puzzle creation, so I’ll let you know how that goes 😉

## Conundrums from Class Dojo

Conundrums from Class Dojo are short animated videos (less than 2 minutes) that pose ethical and philosophical questions to students. Each one has a video, a question to discuss along with an activity sheet for recording responses, and the option to share the idea with parents.

## How to Access Conundrums

You can access Conundrums even if you don’t have a Class Dojo account. The series is part of their Social Emotional Learning collection, which you can find here. The Conundrums set is the largest of the ten categories by far with 27 videos. You may remember that in the past I’ve also recommended their Growth Mindset videos.

## An Example of a Conundrum

One example of a Conundrum from Class Dojo is “The Tree Conundrum.” Students are given a hypothetical situation where a tree that is located on private land has been found to provide the best-tasting fruit in the world — and it’s the only one. The family who owns the property is not interested in sharing their tree, but has offered to sell one seed from the tree for a billion dollars.

Your conundrum is to decide whether someone should pay for the seed, the government should take over the property, no action should be taken, or solve the problem a different way.

## Why Use Conundrums with Students?

Students love to debate topics (think about the popularity of “Would You Rather”), and these types of discussions are always opportunities for them to see things from multiple perspectives and learn how to justify their responses. They can practice their creative problem solving skills and critical thinking while feeling safe in participating because there is not one right answer. These are also quick activities that can be done after a long test or other moments when you don’t have quite enough time to start a brand new lesson. Or, you can extend them into a longer lesson using a Socratic Smackdown.

## More Ideas

If you like these, and your students want more, you can also try:

You can find these and more ideas in my Philosophy for Kids Wakelet.

## The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination

I love the entire concept of the newest book from Brad Montague, The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination. Montague, if you recall, was the creator of the Kid President web series, and also wrote the book, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, with his Kid President brother-in-law, Robby Novak. Brad and his wife, Kristi, have a creative studio called Montague Workshop, and they worked together to create The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination.

Here is the description you will find on your favorite book site:

The recommended reading age is 4-8 years old, but as most educators know, picture books can be used with any age group — even high school. The clever story and illustrations will certainly appeal children and adults. There are also some resources for discussion and creative thinking provided here.

I don’t have to stretch my imagination one bit to picture this story coming to life on the big screen one day. But in the meantime, treat your students and/or families to this sweet book and recruit some more special agents for the cause 🙂