Monday, September 30, 2013

Laser Maze

Laser Maze is a new game from ThinkFun.  I actually got this for my birthday last month, but what with the move and getting settled in, I completely forgot about it!  And that is something, because this has to be one of my top 3 ever logic puzzle/games, so how could I possibly have forgotten about it?  I mean, it does have a "laser" and who could ask for anything more?

Laser Maze comes in a nice sturdy storage box where each piece clips securely into place to keep them safe and snug.  You don't want your laser getting beat up or your mirrors getting scratched!

Pop out the game board and you find the challenge cards.  Included in the deck is a handy reference card and some instructions.

There are 6 different pieces.

Your most important piece is the laser.  It's a good laser too!  Sometimes I let my kids play with this puzzle, but it usually makes me nervous to have them playing with the laser.  I'm worried more about my laser getting broken, than the safety of my kids!  (Just kidding really.)  There are cautions not to stare into the laser, but if you have cats and laser pointers, you already know not to do this.

The next big player in this game is the purple mirror.  It has two possible roles, mirror or target.  It works as a mirror when you bounce the laser off it to another direction.  It works as a target when you light up the little red triangular section.  It can also do both at once!  Depending on how the board is set up and where the laser travels.

This green piece is the beam splitter.  It works hard by breaking up that laser beam in two different directions.  This is different from the mirror which simply redirects the beam.  With the splitter in play, you can get that beam going all over the place!

The blue piece is the double mirror.  It has a mirror on the front and the back.  Potentially, the beam can hit the front mirror and bounce off, follow some crazy path, and then return to hit the back mirror and bounce off again!

Next is the checkpoint.  When the laser gets to this piece, it has to stop and show its ID card...just kidding!  This just helps to constrain the path of the beam and make a challenge more, um, challenging.

And this is a cell blocker.  This just blocks a spot so you can't put any other pieces there.  It can make things tricky!

And onto the game!  Here's level one set up.  The challenge card shows you where to place your initial pieces.  If they face a certain direction only, that'll be specified too.  If the piece has a question mark on it, you have to figure out which direction it should face.  In the upper right of the card, you can see a number in a red circle.  This tells you how many targets must be lit up to win the level.  In the upper left, you will see the remaining pieces to place on the game board.

When you get everything in place, press the laser button, and light up those targets!  Isn't that pretty?!

In this picture, you can see the beam splitter in action.  It is lighting up the target at the top and the one on the left.

Here you can see the double mirror being used and the checkpoint.  This isn't a great example of the double mirror since it only uses one side.  :-(  I didn't get a picture of the double mirror used twice. 

Here the checkpoint is in use again along with all 5 target/mirrors.  The purple target that is lit up is also acting as a mirror in this level.  Cool, huh?

And a last picture with both beam splitters being used and the cell blocker.  There are 3 targets lit up here!  That's a tricky level!

This game is rated for ages 8 to adult.  Adults will totally love this, for sure (I speak from experience)!  But girls and boys both will adore playing with this little laser and all the mirrors too. So if you have someone with a birthday coming up, you might consider buying them something educational and FUN!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five on Friday

I guess I should do a Six on Saturday post instead...I'm always late!

1.  We got a new couch!  It's actually a love seat where each side reclines.  And we love it!

There it is...and our feet!

2.  We made some delicious things this week.  Homemade pudding cups and caramel apples!  Wish it was fall here, but at least the weather has cooled down a little bit.

3. Ginny started some new math this week.  It's called Beast Academy from AOPS.  I thought she could use some extra practice with fractions, and I do love how AOPS presents things, so Gin is doing these as well as her other Math U See work.  I'm very tough on the math.  I know there is a big controversy about when to start kids with math or whether they should be doing it at all, but I'm totally in the math immersion crowd!  My husband and I both have our degrees in math and it would be very strange to us if our children didn't have an innate ability.  But we do push them a little bit too.

Beast Academy is a new program and says it follows common core standards.  They have the third grade level completed and one section of fourth grade.  I bought 3D for Gin for the fraction work it included.  It's a little below her level, since she is in 5th grade this year.  Beast Academy does a great job of presenting concepts using a comic strip approach.  I also love all the fun math puzzles they sneak in there!

4. We played some games this week.  One of my personal favorites is Cascassonne.  You draw tiles with city, road and farm bits and have to build a grid matching things up.  It's quite a simple game, but still tons of fun for both kids and adults.

The other game we played is called TransAmerica.  This game also has a simple set of rules but is super fun to play!  Everyone is dealt 5 cards showing 5 different cities in the US.  The goal is to connect all 5 of your cities with train track. 

5.  And last, I caught the kids on my new couch and they were reading quietly to themselves!  I love those moments!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Perplexing Puzzles - 9/25/13

A birthday word search you can share with your students, family and friends.  It is geared towards mid to upper elementary.  Just click on the picture and download from Google Drive!

Link Share - Puzzle Nation: Pencil vs Pen

Puzzle Nation has a wonderful post about fandom on their blog today, touching on some real issues like "fake geek girls" and "pencil vs pen".  ;-)  Check out their post.  But here's the part I enjoyed the awesome video!

Wow!  Loved seeing Adam Savage and Will Wheaton on that!  I had no idea girl geeks didn't get the respect they deserve.

And by the way, I'm a geek and a girl.  I also solve puzzles in pen.  HA!

Monday, September 23, 2013


Barnes & Noble has 50% off tables again!  I totally scored a ton of awesome puzzles I've been eyeing for some time now.  Maybe it's a little crazy, but I grabbed up all the ones I don't already own...and that made 6!  Six wonderfully fun and challenging new puzzles!  :-)

Tilt from ThinkFun is the first puzzle I cracked open.  Actually, it was already open, so I had to make sure all the parts were there (and they were!)  Tilt comes with a handy storage bag, instructions, 40 challenge cards, 2 green sliders, 4 blue sliders and 6 gray square blockers.

And this cool playing board.  The top of the board sits on the rounded base and is then able to swivel about.

Pick a challenge card, add your sliders and blockers and your ready to Tilt!

Here are a couple of Tilts completed.  You must let the sliders slide completely to the other side of the board or until they hit a blocker.  The object of the puzzle is to get all the green sliders into the center hole while leaving the blue sliders on the board.  It's not always as easy as it seems!

My green sliders have made it home and you can see them snug in the little base!

I like this puzzle!  The little sliders and other puzzle pieces are very well made, and I think the tilting concept is ingenious.  ThinkFun always puts out well constructed and elegantly thoughtful puzzles.  They recommend ages 8 to adult for this puzzle.  I'm sure younger kids could knock out some of the easier challenges with no problem.  And, of course, this would be a great game for parents and kids to work on together.  Don't forget that family game night could include single player puzzles like these as more brains are always helpful when solving puzzles on the harder levels!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Five on Friday

(Or Saturday!)

1.  Grandma and Grandpa came to visit!  This was an unexpected, but very wonderful surprise!  We were all happy to see them.  Our new house can feel like a home, now that they have been here!

2.  Gram brought a little craft for us to work on.  Rubber band bracelets!  Ginny, Gram and I made a couple of them, then Jack joined in too.  The kids realized that these were not only fun as bracelets, but also made really awesome shooting bands too!  They about laughed themselves silly shooting all kinds of things around the house...including me and Grandpa! 

3.  We made buckeye balls!  Gram suggested were play around with some strange shapes, like cannonball towers and snakes...the kids loved that idea!

4.  Lego Minifigures Series 11 is out!  J & G earned 1 figure each at the end of this past homeschool week.  They made it through without too much whining or dragging feet.  They also both aced their Science tests and Jack got a 91% on his Math test!  Hurray!  The new minifigs are awesome.  We are hoping to get a scarecrow so we can give it to Grandma for her birthday (she loves the Wizard of Oz!)  I am hoping to get a girl boy robot is lonely.  :-(  So far we've got the pretzel girl and the Yeti!

5.  I had my annual physical and was told that I'm severely anemic.  That's interesting, because as far as I can tell, I don't have any of the symptoms.  That may explain the ice chewing though....but I do love ice!  Anyhow, I'll be doing tests over the next couple weeks, and we'll see where that goes.

6.  No new puzzles this week, but I do have something fun for the younger kids and it should be ready by the end of next week!  And I guess that makes it 6 for Friday!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Perplexing Puzzles 9/18/13

Today's puzzle is for early elementary students studying addition and learning to balance equations!  There are two puzzle pages (one easier and one harder) in a pdf file downloadable from Google Drive.

Happy Solving!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five On Friday

1.  A new shirt!  Ginny picked out the material and pattern for this shirt.  I sewed it up.  She is extremely pleased with it!  She even wore it two days in a row ("It isn't dirty yet!")  Gin loves designing clothes, so I think she really enjoyed picking the bits and seeing how it came out.

2.  We did 2 experiments and 1 project for science this week!

Swinging the pendulum.

Modeling their bedrooms.

And color mixing and measuring.  The kids reported that this was the very best experiment EVER, because they got to use real science equipment, like beakers and test tubes!  They had a ball using all the tong-like things that came in our kit too!

3.  We made markers.  J&G have been waiting patiently (not!) to get a hold of Crayolas new Marker Maker.  These kids are marker-aholics.  They had a blast making new colors and naming them things like "Grandma Green" and "Mulch Brown".

4.  There's a really neat interview with Tanya Thompson, Head of Inventor Relations at ThinkFun, over on the Puzzle Nation blog.  She used to be a math teacher!  Pretty darn cool!

5.  And a new set of Latin puzzles is now available.  This week is "All About Oceans".

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Perplexing Puzzles 9/11/13

Six movie quotes encoded with ASL letters for students in late elementary.
Happy Solving!