With the holidays coming up, many parents ask me for educational gifts that I would recommend for their children. “Cart Before the Horse” is one that I would suggest. It is a logic puzzle game that can be played independently or in a small group collaboration (or in a center). It’s for children 8 and up, and comes from www.mindware.com, one of my favorite sources for thinking games and activities. Some other games that I recommend from the site are: Rush Hour, Solitaire Chess, Q-Bitz, Knot So Fast, and Gobblet. These are all games that require logic, strategy, and deductive reasoning – making them great for the classroom or as gifts.
My posts have been a little serious lately. So, I found an antidote on the blog “Technology Rocks, Seriously“. The author, Shannon, posts several links to some Thanksgiving logic puzzles and other problem solving games. “Turkey Liberation 2” piqued my interest. I recently read this post on video games enhancing creativity, so here is your justification for adding a few to your lesson plan!
Lemelson Center’s Invention at Play is a website that encourages creative thinking. The philosophy is that, by playing, we become more inventive. Cloud Dreamer allows the students to use their imaginations to create their own visions in the clouds. Puzzle Blocks emphasizes problem-solving with tangram pieces. In Word Play the students create stories. By far, one of the favorite playgrounds among my students is Tinker Ball. This is basically a web version of the Bubble Ball app I posted about not too long ago. The students have to use various pieces in combination to get a ball into a cup. It’s fun to challenge them to find out who can do it successfully with the least pieces or the most. I love that they are problem-solving, but that there endless solutions to the problem. You could have them write a “How To” paper giving instructions, or get them to think about their own thinking and describe the process they followed to reach their final solution.
Before you click on this link, make sure you have a lot of time on your hands. I have it on good authority from several people, including my eight-year old, that this site is addictive. To be honest, I had a hard time tearing myself away from the screen once I got started. What I love about this site is that it requires a combination of creativity, problem-solving, and musical talent. Basically, it allows you to compose music by building roads, adding cars to the roads, and placing various types of waypoints to create the notes. But you won’t understand the full potential of Isle of Tune until you visit it yourself. And, while you’re there, be sure to visit the isles that have already been created. You will be amazed at the ingenuity used to recreate popular songs and to invent new compositions. Even more exciting news – they are planning to launch their iPad app this week.