## Thursday, November 15, 2012

### Peek-a-boo Logic: Homemade Puzzle Game

If you've been reading my blog lately, you can tell that I've been a bit obsessed with homemade logic games this week.   I like to 'window shop' on Amazon and I always find neat brain puzzles for my kids that I can't afford right now, so I just let them inspire me to invent my own fun homemade activities.  This one was made for under \$1..  I named it Peek-a-boo Logic, and it's a neat little game for a variety of ages (both my 3-year-old kids and my 30-something husband enjoyed it!).  If you want to find out more, read on...

To make this game, all you need is some colored paper, stickers (where you have multiple stickers of the same image), and some lamination sheets (optional).  The moveable game pieces are tetronimoes (shapes made up of 4 connecting squares - think Tetris!).  I made some templates on paper and then laminated  colored paper and cut out the shapes.  Mine were not perfect, and they really don't have to be unless you have a perfectionist child that wants everything to fit correctly.  You could also glue wooden tiles together to give the pieces a different feel.

The game-board is a 4x5 grid of stickers (I used 4 each of 5 different images) placed randomly.  You could also make a larger board and leave some spaces blank, or make more/different shapes - I just made this up as I went along.  For the puzzle challenges I stuck one of each sticker image onto strips of laminated paper and then used a dry-erase marker to make up the challenges as I went along based on what I saw from my kids' abilities (you could make an entire booklet of challenges from easy to hard).  I specifically chose to use dry erase markers for the challenge strips so that my kids could make up their own puzzles and then count how many of each type of image is showing to fill in the challenge cards themselves (and try to stump Mommy).

The rules of the game are simple - use the tetronimo pieces to cover the stickers until only the required number and type of stickers (from the yellow challenge cards) are shown.  My kids loved the "Peek-a-Boo" aspect of the game.

There may be different solutions to a single problem (especially if a lot of stickers are revealed).  Older (high school) students could do an interesting Math Circle study on this game and the mathematics of arranging the stickers on the board to limit the number of possible solutions, etc..

So how did my 3-year old kids do?

We have a number of other Tetris-style manipulatives/games around the house, so my girls are already familiar with how these shapes fit together.  They exceeded my expectations and quickly understood how to play the game.  They didn't play off the challenge cards, but I would point to a sticker and say, "let's try to see if we can hide all the other stickers so only this one is playing peek-a-boo" or" let's see if we can get only the flower stickers to show", etc..  and they got the concept of how to work around the stickers that were supposed to be showing and try to get the others covered.  Best of all, they enjoyed playing, so this homemade game is definitely a winner - and something that my kids can grow into as their logic and spatial reasoning skills continue to improve.

It's a fairly simple concept, but there is something about this brain puzzle that was strangely addictive, and I couldn't keep my hands off it either, playing with different ways of placing the pieces and making up challenges for myself.  Who would have thought that colored paper and some stickers could produce an activity that's fun for grown-ups too!

UPDATE: I was so inspired by how much my kids enjoyed early math "games" that I created the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for 3-6 year olds, which includes online brain challenge games, printable worksheets, enrichment activities and more!