For the past couple of weeks, I have been talking about mindsets with my third grade class. I plan to do a post about that topic next week, but today is Friday, and we’re in the midst of the holiday season – which means that it’s time for another gift suggestion in my “Gifts for the Gifted” series.
My recommendations for today are two maze games: Perplexus and Groove Tube. Our recent discussions about Fixed and Growth mindsets made me look at these two toys in my classroom a bit differently. Perplexus is one of the go-to toys during indoor recess. Some students view this ball maze within a sphere as an intriguing challenge, and will spend a good twenty minutes fixated on guiding the ball carefully around (reflecting a Growth Mindset) while others will grab the sphere gleefully and jerkily dump the ball all over the place, completely ignoring the point of the game, and declaring victory in about 5 minutes (that would be the Fixed Mindset, if you haven’t guessed). The latter group reminds me of the kids who solved Rubik’s cubes by moving the colored stickers around when I was a kid.
Similarly, one of my students brought in a Groove Tube a few weeks ago, which I had never seen. It consists of a one tube overlapping another. Inside, where you can’t see it, is a maze of grooves. If you can manipulate the outer tube through this unseen maze correctly, it will slide completely off.
These are both toys that will be quickly abandoned by kids who sport the Fixed Mindset. However, I have found that modeling, particularly with younger kids, can completely change their approach. When they see me persisting through the challenge, refusing to give up, and showing pleasure as I try to think it through, they show renewed interest.
Both of these toys can be great entertainers in “waiting” situations – the doctor’s office, long car rides (not the Perplexus, though, if it’s a bumpy one!), visiting family, etc… Groove Tube, which comes in different colors to represent different difficulty levels, is relatively inexpensive (making it a good stocking stuffer). Perplexus is a bit more of an investment, but still reasonably priced. However, you might be wasting your money if you don’t invest some time in showing the recipients the value of working your way doggedly toward a solution.
One of the best gifts that you can give, which costs nothing but time, is to show a child how to embrace a challenge.
(For more “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can see: Heroes for My Daughter, Cubelets, Sifteo Cubes, Scrabble Flash, and Makedo. Or, you can visit my Pinterest board of Games and Toys for the Gifted.)