Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chocolate Fix - the Sweet Game of Deductive Reasoning

I love doing paper puzzles, but I also like playing puzzle games.  There are actually quite a lot of them available.  There are puzzle games that are single player and others that are multiple player.  My favorite is the single player logic puzzle.  The best of those offer unlimited creating and solving possibilities, like the Rubik's Cube.  But these are usually too hard for young solvers (and sometimes too hard for me! ;-)  Some of the best puzzle games that I've come across are those sold by ThinkFun.  If you aren't a puzzle hound like me, you can get away with buying one or two, and have plenty of puzzling for your kids.  I prefer to have a copy of each's a collecting thing!

Of the puzzles ThinkFun makes, my recommendation for the youngest solvers is a puzzle game called Chocolate Fix.  This game is single player.  It comes with 9 chocolates, 3 pink, 3 milk and 3 dark, which also have different shapes, 3 triangles, 3 squares, and 3 circles.  The chocolates fit snugly in a 3x3 grid tray.  There is a flip book with instructions, it's own stand, and 40 challenges.  Players flip to a challenge and then attempt to solve it using the clues shown.  Each clue gives hints as to where on the grid to place the chocolates, by noting the color or the shape or both.

The suggested age range is 8 and up.  I say "No way!" to that!  We've owned this game for years.  When my daughter was younger (4ish), she liked to pretend these were real chocolates and she would go around the room and offer one to everybody.  We would have to pretend to eat them of course!  As she grew older, she was able to solve the easiest puzzle challenges, and at almost 10 years old, she can hold her own on the intermediates.  The expert levels give me a challenge, although I can usually solve them within 10 minutes or less (cut me some slack!  I'm not a genius!).

There are a number of thinking skills children can practice while playing with this puzzle.  For the youngest, it is a chance to learn colors and shapes and maybe do a little sequencing.  Others will learn how to analyze clues, visualize possibilities, and the skill of process of elimination, just to name a few!

The newest version from Thinkfun comes with "place holders."  I think they must be used as markers for guesses, but the puzzle works just fine without those, if you happen to have an older version like me.  From the picture above, it looks like they have also changed up the colors a bit, but that is probably a benefit, because I sometimes have trouble telling the dark chocolates from the milk chocolates on the clue cards in my version.  It also looks like there is an app from iTunes, but it only has 30 of the challenges and no fun chocolates to play with.  On the other hand, it is free!  So if you have an iPhone-type-thing, you can try it out before you buy.

So if you're looking for another critical thinking challenge for your young solver, this might be the game for you!  I would certainly buy it for under 5's, but not give it to anyone who still puts things in their mouths.  I did recently give it to an under 5, and she was delighted to have her own little box of chocolates!  Little did she know, I am trying to groom her to be a puzzle lover!  It's never to early to start puzzling.  That said, there are puzzles challenging enough for older kids and adults too.  You've got to keep your brain sharp, no matter how old you are!  I just wish their were more than the 40 challenges.

Note:  This is not an advertisement for ThinkFun.  I just happen to think they are a great company and this game is worth checking out!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Turtle Puzzles for Young Solvers

And my turtle puzzle pack is complete!  This pack contains 20+ puzzles for solvers around grades K-3.  I've separated the puzzles into two sections, one for easier puzzles and one for harder puzzles.  There is also a bonus section with a matching game.  There are 8 different types of turtles which can be printed up as trading cards or the matching game.  Information about the turtles can be printed on the backs of the cards.  My kids were very excited about the trading cards and made sure they each had all 8 cards!

The set contains the standard puzzles, crosswords, word searches, mazes, etc.  There are also 2 dot-to-dots, one easy and one harder.  This was my first attempt at a dot-to-dot puzzle, so I'm hoping they turned out ok!  Also included are scute matching puzzles, which I think are a lot of fun!

Students completing these puzzles will learn all about turtles...body parts, habits, and trivia.  Several puzzles are themed around "green things".  There are also a couple of puzzles that deal with different species of turtles and fun information about them.  These puzzles would be perfect for a unit about turtles or reptiles.  And turtle lovers will totally enjoy them too!

This PDF includes:
Turtle Mystery Grids 1 - math puzzle with hints
Turtle Cross Out - follow directions to reveal a fact about turtles
Turtle Color-By-Number - addition
Turtle Color-By-Number - subtraction
Turtle Dot-to-Dot - numbers and letters
Turtle Maze 1
Turtle Maze 2
Turtle Picto-Crossword
Turtle Picto-Sudoku
Scute Number Match - number recognition and trivia
Scute Letter Match - letter recognition and riddles
Word Scramble - unscramble words to reveal a hidden word
Turtle Acrostic - 2 clued puzzles with turtle trivia
Turtle Alpha-Sudoku - 2 puzzles
Green Things Crossword
Turtle Dot-to-Dot
Turtle Species Fill In
Turtle Species Info Sheet - to accompany the Turtle Species Fill In puzzle
Turtle Mystery Grids 2 - 2 math puzzles
Green Things Hidden Word - use clues to find the hidden word
Turtle Word Search
Turtle Words In Words

You can also find 3 additional turtle puzzles in my Cub Corner Set 2 which is available as a free download at Teacher Pay Teachers.

You can click on the cover art below to buy the puzzle pack at Teachers Pay Teachers for $4.00.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cub Corner Set 4 - All About Apples

This week's Cub Corner set has an apple theme!  Not only are apples delicious, they make a great subject for fun puzzles!  In this set, solvers will learn about the parts of an apple, find words related to apples, and practice addition facts while coloring in an apple tree.

Included in this PDF:
Apple Fill In - the parts of an apple
Apple Math Tree - addition practice and coloring
Apple Word Search - apple related words with a bonus hidden word!
Answer Key

Click on the cover art and you will redirected to my store where you can download the freebie puzzles!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Turtle Puzzles Preview

I've been working on a pack of puzzles about turtles for young solvers.  My kids have been testing all the puzzles for me, and even though the puzzles are too easy for them, they are still delighted!  They love turtles.  They had to search up all their turtle stuffed animals to help them do the puzzles.  They just crack me up!  So I thought I'd share a preview of some of the puzzles I've been working on.

I'm really tickled about the Scute Number Match puzzle.  (There's a Scute Letter Match too.)  Don't ask me why, I just get excited about silly things sometimes...kinda like my kids!  In the Scute Match, the solver has to color all the matching numbers in until only one number is left that has no match.  That number fills in a trivia fact about turtles.  Here's a picture of the puzzle and the answer.

Another type of puzzle I've been having fun with is the Color-By-Number.  I'm not a great artist (I didn't draw the scutes above), but I still try.  This Color-By-Number requires solving some math problems first, and then using the answers to color in the picture.  Here's the preview of one of those puzzles.

Of course, the turtle pack will contain 20 puzzles, including word searches, crosswords, scrambles and more.  I'm thinking of adding a little bonus game to this pack too.  Hopefully it will be completed and ready for my store by this weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Skip Counting Mazes

This weekend I released a collection of mazes for young solvers to help them practice skip counting!  These are simple mazes in which the student can follow the path through the maze while also counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, etc.  Skip counting is a wonderful way to learn the multiplication facts!  There are 10 mazes included for the facts 1s through 10s.  Each page contain two mazes, either to be worked at the same time, or if cut in half, worked separately or by different students.  Each puzzle also comes in a color version and a black and white version.  Answer keys are also provided.

Below are some previews of the mazes.  If you click on the cover art, you will be taken to my store, The Puzzle Den, on Teachers pay Teachers, where you can see more previews and also buy this set for only $2.00!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidents' Day and an Abe Lincoln Puzzle Pack

February 18th, 2013 is Presidents' Day!  Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln had birthdays in February.  In honor of this occasion, I have created a puzzle pack all about Abraham Lincoln.  (Maybe next year I'll do Washington :-)  There are 10 pages of puzzles in this set, which was designed for solvers in the first to third grades.

Included in this PDF:
Abe's Word Search - facts about Lincoln's life
Abe's Word Cross Out - trivia about his hat!
Abe's Crypto-Quotes - addition & subtraction practice with quotes from Lincoln
Abe's Stovepipe Hat Maze
Abe's Kentucky Home Maze
Abe's Monument Trivia
Abe's Penny Puzzler - adding pennies practice
Abe's Hidden Word - more trivia about Lincoln
Abe's Kentucky Home Word Search - trivia about Kentucky
Abe's Words In Words
Answer Key

If you click on the cover art, you will be taken to my store where you can purchase this pack for just $2.00!  And below that are a couple previews of the puzzles for you to peruse.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fun Friday Freebie Set 4

Fun Friday Freebie Set 4 has just been released!  In it you will find 4 word puzzles to challenge students in grades 3-6.  I think older students would also enjoy these puzzles.

Included in this PDF:
African Animals - Reverse Words In Words
Beverages - Word Search
Word Scrambles - Can You Do the Can-Can?
Phrase Finder
Answer Key

Word Scrambles are my very own creation!  (Of course, nothing is ever really new, but this did seem to come out of my own head!)  This puzzle has scrambled words, but instead of the letters just being placed in random order, the letters include a picture!  "Can You Do the Can-Can?" has the word "can" in each of the scrambled words, so if you see T N E E with a picture of a can, you will unscramble that into the word "canteen"!  My kids found the idea rather challenging at first, but they got the hang of it!

Reverse Words In Words is going to require some brainstorming.  I've provided a table where students can write all the African Animals they can think of down in a list.  My students didn't want to write out a list, but that made the puzzle harder!  Encourage students to read instructions carefully, listen to advice, and look at the pictures.  All these things may contain hints that can help them solve any puzzle.

Well, enough about that!  Here's the link to the freebie pack.  Remember that you need to have a login for, but the puzzle pack and the login are completely free.

from The Puzzle Den


Erno Rubik said, "The problems of puzzles are very near the problems of life."  Mr Rubik is the creator of the Rubik's Cube, so he undoubtedly knew what he was talking about!  Solving puzzles is not just a fun pastime; it is a way to broaden the mind, sharpen critical thinking skills, expand our vocabulary, fine tune our math skills, and so much more!  A little bit of fun can turn into skills that improve our daily lives.

As a homeschooling parent, I am always on the prowl for interesting activities that can help to fill the "logic" slot of our curriculum.  There are a few options out there, but they don't always fit the age level I need or they just don't make a lot of sense (not good for something billed as logic)!  Puzzles have always been my go-to item to fill logic time.  We've been solving them for years, but then I ran out of puzzles!  There certainly are plenty of fluff puzzles out there that I could make my kids do, but I want puzzles that really make them think!  So I started writing my own.

My store "The Puzzle Den" at is a place where I can share my puzzle mania!  If you look around my house, you will find stashes of puzzle magazines everywhere.  Now, added to the piles are bits of paper with my own scratched out puzzles, waiting to be added to a pack and shared with the world.  I do hope you and your students enjoy these puzzles. 

Remember, when you're visiting TpT, you can get credits for every dollar you spend by leaving feedback for the authors.  Every 100 credits is worth $5 towards future purchases.  So if you find yourself needing to buy my priced products, just leave some feedback and you will have gained not only a lovely puzzle pack to amaze your students with, but store credits too!  You can also "follow me" on TpT and get email updates whenever I post new puzzles.