Category Archives: Problem Solving

Cart Before the Horse

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.

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Fun from “Technology Rocks, Seriously”

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!

Manga High

I learned about Manga High a few weeks ago, but wanted to explore it more before sharing it.  Now that I’ve had a chance to delve into it a little, I can’t wait for everyone else to try it!
Manga High is a free math resource for K-12.  Teachers can register entire classes, and no student e-mails are necessary to create their accounts.  Once the teacher manually adds each student, or uploads the class using a spreadsheet, the teacher can then select levels for each student to “play”.  Students can earn achievements by playing the math games.  The teacher has access to class reports, and individualized ones that would be useful for conferencing.
I’m going to start giving my gifted students in 5th grade access to it next week to pilot it.  Please let me know if you use it, and what your own feelings are about this seemingly indispensable tool!

Invention at Play

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.

Isle of Tune

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.