3-6, Games, Problem Solving

Gifts for the Gifted – Deduckto

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. 

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…

Boy writing I Love Sudoku on chalkboard
Games, K-12

International Sudoku Day

When I was looking for great links to include in my September Wakelet, I discovered that September 9th is International Sudoku Day. Of course, I can’t ignore that because I literally play Sudoku every single day. It’s my favorite “down-time” activity. I put several links in the Wakelet to help you celebrate this auspicious day, including some online Sudoku games and some places you can find free printables. There’s even a link to a free picture Sudoku you can download from TPT. And, don’t forget to check out the interactive Sudoku bulletin board ideas that you can find here.

I used to like using Jigsawdoku with my students because it allows you to choose different options in order to scaffold. For students who need some extra challenge, you can have them try Mystery Grid (click on question mark for instructions) or Inkies (also known as Ken-Ken Puzzles or Mathdoku). And if you have some students who get really passionate, you can try one of these alternatives.

For some more Sudoku-Similar Solving ideas, take a look at these posts on Donna Lasher’s blog, some of which include video tutorials.

3-12, Games, Math, Teaching Tools

Charty Party – All Ages Edition

Charty Party is a game based on charts. (H/T to @MsMessineo for tweeting about this!)  Played like Apples to Apples, a judge is selected who turns over a card with a chart on it.  Only the X-Axis is labeled.  Players look at their own cards, which have potential labels for the Y-Axis, and choose one from their hand that they think the judge will find the funniest.  The player whose card is chosen by the judge collects that chart, and a new person becomes the judge.  The game ends when someone has collected 5 charts.

The creators of the original Charty Party, which was designed for ages 17+,  received a lot of requests for versions that would be appropriate for classrooms and young families.  So, after interviewing many people, including teachers, they are back with an All Ages Edition on Kickstarter.  The good news is that the game has already been funded, so production is guaranteed.  The even better news is that for every $5,000 the team raises from backers, they will donate 10 Charty Party All Ages games to a school.  As I am writing this post, they have already raised over $56,000. (Their original goal was $10,000.) The kind of hard-to-swallow news for those of us eager to play it is that delivery of the games will not begin until January, 2021.  🙁

You can get the original Charty Party right now, and add on your All Ages Cards when you receive them.  I read some of the Q&A on the product’s Amazon page, and in response to, “How many cards would I have to remove before I could allow my high school students to play this at school?” one person answered, “About half.”  Personally, I think it would be fun to have your students make their own cards to go with the charts for the time being.

If you teach math, I envy you, and definitely think you should check out this game.  For other math fun with charts and graphs, see my posts on: Slow Reveal Graphs, Dear Data, and What’s Going on in This Graph?


Charty Party All Ages
image from Charty Party All Ages Kickstarter

6-12, Fun Friday, Problem Solving, Uncategorized

The Social Distancing Puzzles

Yesterday’s post, which was about finding creative ways to make Zoom (or any online conference) calls fun, was a nice lead-in today’s shared activity. Eric Berlin, puzzlemaker extraordinaire, (see my Puzzlesnacks post for more info) came up with an ingenious idea that adds a twist to social distancing while earning money for charity.  When you use the form linked on this page to donate to Feeding America, and then provide a screen shot of your receipt, you will be e-mailed two sets of eleven puzzles in PDF form.  Choose a puzzle partner to give Set A or B to, and you will work on the other.  You can do some of the puzzles independently, and others will need collaboration.  The combination of puzzle answers from both sets will be needed to solve the final puzzle.

I haven’t done all of the puzzles, yet, but they look like they are probably suited for teenagers and up.  With your two sets of challenges comes a third file of hints and solutions.  For more information about Feeding America, you can visit this page on their website.  However, be sure to go to Eric Berlin’s page through this link so your donation will be correctly allocated.

Word Puzzle Grid
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

3-12, Games, Teaching Tools, Websites


In April of 2020, as much of the world had fallen under the pall of the pandemic, more and more people were resorting to Zoom video as a replacement for socializing in person.  A few organizations (not affiliated with Zoom) decided to organize a “#ZoomJam,” with the challenge to create innovative games that could be played in this new context.  You can read more about the organizers of #ZoomJam and its origins here.

The competition has ended (though you can still submit games), and you can see the top winners on the #ZoomJam home page.  For a full list of games, you can visit here.

Looking at the games with the lens of an educator, I can see many that could be adapted for teachers to use either as class bonding activities or for academics.  Some of the notable ideas that I could see using with students are: Aardvark, Dance-Off, Hot-Seat, Mute-iny, Night at the Museum, Split Decision, and Zoom Spot.  Of course, you may see many more opportunities on the list that I missed!

Put on a parent lens, friend or family member lens, and you may discover some other #ZoomJam games that you want to attempt – or maybe submit one of your own!

Video Conference
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Apps, Games, K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools

Quarantine Can’t Keep Us Down!

I’ve noticed that a popular activity during our COVID-19 pandemic right now is scavenger hunts.  My favorite scavenger hunt app is Goosechase, which I wrote about in January of this year.  Although I don’t currently have students, I immediately thought of this app when pondering how I would engage my students during online learning.  I considered making a GooseChase for other teachers and families to use, but a few others have beat me to the punch – and done much better jobs than I would have done.

First of all, Goosechase itself has begun a “Community Cup 2020” that is open to all to participate.  It runs from now until April 3rd, with new missions being added each day.  (Apparently the first day included a mission for people to do their best Batman impression, and the video compilation of select submissions is super cute.)  The page describing the contest also includes a how-to video in case you are new to Goosechase.  Since this is an app that asks for photos and videos of people doing (usually) silly things, please be conscious of privacy issues, especially for minors.  

Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta have also created their own special pandemic-inspired Goosechase.  They tweeted that they have one called, “Quarantine Can’t Keep Us Down,” which ends tomorrow, March 26th.  You can download the app and do a search for that game title to participate.  It has so many missions that I couldn’t count them, and it would definitely be a fun activity for the whole family.  According to @BGCMA_Clubs on Twitter, this is just the first of an educational series of scavenger hunts, so follow them on Twitter if you are interested in participating in future hunts.

For teachers who are interested in making your own Goosechases, the company is offering free-of-charge upgrades to the Educator Plus tier of the GooseChase EDU platform for the duration of the shutdown for all teachers.