Monday, April 29, 2013

Tangoes JR

Tangoes JR is the perfect tangram puzzle for young minds and hands!  I bought this for my daughter when she was quite young.  It is a travel-type game where everything stores inside, and it has a convenient carrying handle.  It comes with the 7 standard tangram shapes, and they all store inside a durable drawer.  They are even magnetic so they stick to the puzzle working board.  The top flips open to reveal storage for the challenge cards.  Level 1 shows where the shapes are placed, which is great for younger solvers!  Level 2 just shows the picture, so definitely the more challenging side!  All the challenge pictures are appropriate for kids and most of them are cute too!

This has been, by far, the best puzzle we've ever owned!  Tangrams are just awesome anyway, but this set puts it all together very nicely.  I have to admit that at 9 years old, my daughter finds it a little babyish, but we spent a couple hours the other day working through all of the challenges together and it was still fun!

So if you're looking for something to challenge your little ones, this is the best puzzle option!  The box recommends ages 4 and up, but with proper supervision (there are some small pieces), I'm sure younger kids would love it too.  And playing with puzzles with your kids is a great way to spend time together!  This is also awesome on long car trips.

You can find it on Amazon.  My favorite place to buy puzzles is  You can get lost browsing all the other goodies on their site too, so be careful!

Friday, April 26, 2013

New This Week

A new Fun Friday pack is ready!  This collection contains 4 different puzzle challenges for your students.  You can download your free copy at my TpT store here.

I also have several new arithmetic practice sets available at my store.  These are collections of puzzles to help students practice their math facts from 1 to 10.  As an added twist, they have to first decode them!  Each problem has been encrypted with a simple substitution of cute, little doodles!  So far, I have Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division ready for 2 dollars each.  You can also buy Addition and Subtraction as a bundle or Multiplication and Division as a bundle and save 50 cents on each bundle.  And last, but not least, you can also get all 4 packs for the price of 3 by purchasing the Super Bundle!

To give you a better feel for what these puzzles are like, I'm giving away 2 of them right here!  These are puzzles I made just for blog readers.  You can't actually get either of these by buying any of the above packs, so they are unique!  Just click on the pictures below and you can download both from Google Drive (with answers!)  The first one is a combination of addition and subtraction.  The second one is for multiplication and division practice.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Teachers for Boston Fundraiser

Michaela over at The Center Based Classroom is running a fundraiser for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.  She has two bundles of classroom materials, one for grades K-2 and one for 3-6.  Donate $20 and you will receive a bundle of goodies valued at over $150!  There are some great stores that have donated fabulous teaching resources.  Check it out and make a donation!  You can donate at Michaela's blog.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Giant Rush Hour

Rush Hour must be ThinkFun's most popular logic game.  And now you can play with a giant version at The Strong National Museum of Play in NY!  Visit ThinkFun's Blog for more information and some cool pictures!

Rush Hour was also featured in the Scientific American magazine.  The article discusses how these types of puzzles were used to enhance children's critical thinking skills.  You can read more about that here.

Just had to share, it is too cool!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Earth Day Puzzles

I've been busy making puzzles for Earth Day!  Above is a freebie maze.  If you click on the picture, you can download a copy from Google Drive.  If you give the free maze a try, let me know if you liked it!  I think I drew some of the lines a little bit too close together, but it was the first thing I made on my new Bamboo Tablet!  I've also got 3 different packs of puzzles for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  These puzzles focus on Earth Day, recycling, and endangered animals.

This pack is for Kinders and Firsts.  Puzzles included are Cross Out, Coded Arithmetic, Picto-Crossword, Crypto-Riddles, Hidden Picture Coloring, Finish the Series, Missing Letters, Number Match, Word Mazes, and a Word Search.  You get 10 pages of puzzles for only $2.00.

Second and Third grade puzzles include Lost Words, Word Scramble, Word Search, Picture Search,  Crypto-Quote, Maze, Picto-Sudoku, Mystery Grids, Cross Out, Acrostic, and Fill In.  Also $2.00 for 10 pages of puzzles.

And last, but probably the most fun, are puzzles for middle grade students.  Included in this pack are a Word Scramble, Pyramids, Word Circles, Sudokus, Acrostics, Word Mazes, a Crypto-Quote, Beginnings and Endings, Words In Words, and Word Searches.  Another $2.00 pack with 10 pages of puzzles.  Note that some pages actually have more than 1 puzzle on them, so a little bonus!

I've also provided a bundled edition with all three grade level packs.  That gives you 30 pages of puzzles for grades K through 6!  I thought homeschoolers or teachers with students of varying abilities would find this bundle useful.  The bundle is also a value deal at only $5.00 instead of the $6.00 you would pay if you bought each pack separately.  Every puzzle in each pack is different, so there won't be any duplicates.  You may notice that the Word Mazes for K&1st look almost the same as the Word Mazes for middles grades, but the middle grades maze has a tricksy twist to it and is much more difficult to complete!

I hope you have a chance to get outside for Earth Day and do something fun.  We will probably have a small picnic and a bike ride and enjoy the lovely weather here in NC!  Have a great Earth Day! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mazes On The Web
Mazes are a-maze-ing!

There are a bunch of resources on the internet all about mazes.  We'll explore some of the websites focusing on the younger generation first, and then get into some more nitting-gritting maze stuff later!

Solving Mazes with Kids:
  • Krazy Dad - Totally packed with downloadable mazes for kids of all ages!  He's got easy, intermediate, challenging, tough, and super tough mazes available.  He even has animal and dinosaur shaped mazes!  If you've got a kid hooked on mazes, this is a great resource.  They are free, but he does ask for a small donation, if you can.  KrazyDad also has a ton of other puzzles on his website, so if you Sudoku and other math puzzles, check those out too!
  •  Print Activities - Also packed with mazes for kids!  What's nice here is that they have themed mazes, like holidays, sports, and fairy tales.  They also have a bunch of letter shaped mazes and counting mazes, which would be useful in the classroom.
  •  Primary Games - This website has a bunch of interactive online maze games that are pretty fun...for a variation from the paper/pencil type. 
Making Mazes with Kids:
  • Kids Activity Blog - This blog has several ideas for creating mazes with kids.  Here they make a poster-sized maze for their matchbox cars to drive through!  And here they make a lego maze for the matchbox cars.  Both fun and hands on mazing!
  • History of Mazes and Labyrinths - This website is really cool!  Older kids would have fun reading through some of the information and history of mazes.  This article gives some detailed information about maze creation.
  • Momtastic - This blog shows how to make a marble run maze out of recycled boxes and straws!
  • Our Scribbled Walls - Totally ingenious masking tape floor maze...for puzzling and driving cars!
Just do a search, and you will come up with a bunch of creative ideas for mazes and a ton of free printable mazes to boot.  The ones above were just my personal favorites!  Oh, and don't forget, if you don't want to actually draw a maze yourself, there are free maze generation programs out there too.  I'm just not a big fan of those personally.

So now a little bit about mazes for older kids (meaning adults too!)   I had no idea there was so much to mazes, but apparently you can get quite technical.  Especially when it comes to writing computer programs for drawing and solving mazes.  If you are interested in that type of thing at all, you've got to check out this website, Think Labyrinth!  It is packed with some pretty in-depth discussions about types of mazes and solving algorithms.  There is also a beautiful "Spiralstorm Maze Gallery" filled with hand-drawn spiral mazes...lovely to look at and fun to solve!  I'm sure younger kids would get a kick out of solving these mazes too.

Another fun website for older solvers is Click Mazes.  It is also packed full of mazes to solve, some standard mazes, but many other different kinds of mazes with interesting rules.  There is also another way to design mazes described here.

Try making some mazes with your kids today...from a masking tape floor maze that toddlers would rather run their cars around on than actually try to solve, to an intricate paper maze with lots of twists and turns, there are a variety of ways you can play and create with mazes!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Another Fabulous Giveaway

Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade is hosting a celebration giveaway.  This giveaway features 5 different sets of teacher's products separated by grade levels, k - 4.  There are tons of lovely goodies in each pack!  So head over to her site and enter to earn prizes!  This giveaway continues until April 13th.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Giveaway and A New Freebie


Lucky to Be in First has a huge giveaway starting today!  There are 4 different categories with tons of teaching products for you to win!  Check it out! 

New This Week

This week I have a new freebie for middle grade students (4-6 or higher!)  This pack has what I think is a super fun and super funny puzzle!  (My kids liked it too!)  This puzzle has a bunch of mixed up road signs that students must put back together.  There are some crazy signs and information about road sign standards...for a little bit of learning too!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unhinged - Unfold Your Brain

Barnes and Noble had a half off table today, and I came home with 3 new Logic Puzzles!  Woohoo!  My collection keeps growing!  Now, it's quite possible that B&N stores everywhere may be having half off sale tables too, so you should check out your local bookstore.  Not only do they have books on sale, but they always have lots of games and jigsaw puzzles.  This is how I usually buy mine, not being willing to pay full price, even with my B&N discount card!

One of my newest finds is another single player logic puzzle from ThinkFun.  These guys have some gifted designers working for them!  This one is called Unhinged.  It is 10 plastic hexagons that are hinged together, blue on one side, white on the other.  They kinda remind me of a Jacob's Ladder.  These hexes are well built and have a satisfying little click to them when they stack together.  A tiny manual comes with the game.  It is the same size and shape as one hex!  Ingenious!  It has a tiny spiral cute!  Inside the manual are instructions, challenges and solutions. 

As is expected with ThinkFun games, there are 40 challenge puzzles in the manual: ten beginner, ten intermediate, ten advanced, and ten expert.  The object of the game is simply to flip and fold the hexes to match the challenge cards.  I managed to breeze through the beginners (thank goodness!), got stuck on the first intermediate, skipped it, and breezed through 4 more (so far!)  Here's one of my solutions...

(See how cute that little manual is!?!)  One of the tricks to this puzzle is letting go of the perceived two-dimensionality of the challenge picture.  These babies fold all over themselves and create pretty nifty stacks, so the solutions have multiple levels to them which you just can't see on the puzzle challenge.  If you get stuck, the answers are in the back of the manual and tell you in what order to fold the hexes.  Look closely at the hinges and you will see that each is numbered.  The white side has the even hinges and the blue side has the odd hinges.  For the challenge pictured above, the solution reads simply 4.  Which means that all other hinges should be laying flat (unhinged) and hinge 4 should be folded.  Easy right?!  No problem.

ThinkFun recommends ages 8 and up.  My daughter (age 9) tried a couple beginner challenges without any problems.  You can see her above, and some of the folding action going on too!  I don't think this puzzle would be appropriate for too much younger than that.  Even though I like the quality of these hexes, I do think a lot of twisting and turning in the wrong directions could stress out those hinges.

One of the best parts about this puzzle is that there aren't a whole bunch of pieces to get lost.  All the pieces are connected together, which makes it very portable too.  The only part that might get separated is the cute, little manual (awww...).

If you'd like more information on this game, visit ThinkFun's website.  They even have a nifty little video about how to play Unhinged so you can see it in action!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tic-Tac-Toe Freebie Template

Today's blog freebie is for the classic 2 player game Tic-Tac-Toe!  The first template is for Tic-Tac-Toe that you can play with your preschoolers.  The template has a light x and o in each square for each player to trace over.  This would be nice for kids just learning their letters!  They can play a fun game and might not even realize they are doing some schoolwork too! 

The second template is Spring-Tac-Toe...that's still Tic-Tac-Toe but with a Spring Twist!  This one would be for older kids.  For a little extra fun, suggest students pick favorite flowers and draw them instead of the standard x's and o's. 

To download these templates, simply click on the pictures above.  This should take you to Google Drive where you can download them to your computer and then print them out.

The hands clipart on the top page is a freebie from the Teacher's Clipart store on Teachers Pay Teachers.  The freebie is called "Open Hands Freebie".  You can click on her graphic above to see her fun store!