Thursday, February 27, 2014

TpT Is 3 Million Strong!

And having a sale to celebrate!

TpT Sale

I've placed everything in my store at 20% off.  TpT is offering a promo code for you to use "TPT3" which will give you an extra 10% off.  That's a total of 28% off items you purchase from my store today and tomorrow!  Many other sellers also have their stores at 20% off, so go check out the fun!  You can start with this fun blog hop with Mrs. Beattie's Classroom below!

Now's also a great time to get some of the great items you've had on your wishlist!

Here are a couple of items on my wishlist that I'll be scooping up today!

Forces and Motion Unit

Crossword Puzzle Generator

Praying Mantis Clip Art

And here are some of the top wishlisted items from my store!

Geometry Puzzles for High School

Fraction Circles Puzzle Cards level a

Here are two of my newest products that I think are great fun!  Check them out!


Label It: Parts of Things

Have fun shopping!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 2/26/14

Did you like last week's Pigpen Cipher Decoder Ring?

Pigpen Cipher

I've got a new message for you to decode this week.  It's all about a really cute microscopic creature!  Everyone needs a favorite microscopic creature, and these little guys are definitely mine!

Pigpen Cipher - Microscopic Animal
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Monday, February 24, 2014

Gravity Maze, Kanoodle Genius, and More

This week The Game Aisle is doing a series of reviews from the Toy Fair. First on the list for review was Single Player Games! Seeing a photo of those pretty new puzzle games gave me little shivers of excitement! I've already put some of them on my Amazon wishlist!

I think I'm most excited about another new game coming from ThinkFun.  I have rarely been disappointed with anything I've bought from these guys.  And this new game looks almost as amazing as Laser Maze!

Gravity Maze

Gravity Maze looks like it will be a 3 dimensional maze building puzzle.  I know I'll enjoy the puzzle aspect of the game, with the challenge cards to solve, but I'm sure just using it as a marble run set would be fun too.  My kids have always enjoyed a good marble run set!  This is definitely on my to-buy list.

Kanoodle Genius

Kanoodle Genius looks like another fun game!  Seems like it is already available for purchase too!  I already own a copy of Kanoodle.  I like the portability and puzzle play of Kanoodle, so I'm sure I'll love the Genius edition!

Logic Dots
I can't find much information about this new game from Brainwright, Logic Dots.  It looks like it might be similar in play to Chocolate Fix, but with dots instead of chocolates. 


Quadrillion from SmartGames looks awesome!  The game board comes in four pieces that can be placed in a variety of different ways.  Magnets hold them together.  According to Smart Games, there are 638,976 different start positions that can be formed.  If you find only 24 to 48 challenges (as with most single player puzzles) a little limiting, Quadrillion looks like it could keep you busy for a long time!

Looks like Toy Fair 2014 was a lot of fun.  Check out this post from The Verge...tons of fun games and toys coming our way this year!

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 2/19/14

This week's puzzle freebie is about the Pigpen Cipher.  I have made a Decoder Ring to help decode and encode secret messages with this cipher, but you could also whip this one up fairly easily on scratch paper.  Check out the diagram below...

Pigpen Cipher

You just need to draw the four grids, adding dots to the compartments of the last two grids.  Then fill the grids with letters of the alphabet.  You need to have determined ahead of time, with your secret message pen pal, how you will arrange the letters.  Will you go from bottom to top in the first grid?  Or go across starting from the top left?  With the second grid, will you start on the left and go clockwise?  Or start on the bottom and go counterclockwise?  I have created this code starting at the top left for the first grid and going down, then back up to the top middle, etc.  The second grid starts at the top and continues clockwise.  I used this encoding for the Decoder Ring too.

The Pigpen Cipher is sometimes called the Tic-Tac-Toe Cipher, because of the grid shapes.  It is also sometimes called the Mason's Cipher, because it has been used by the Freemasons.  It's also said that this code was used by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War!  There's a bit of history trivia for you!

You can download today's puzzle by clicking on the decoder ring.  I suggest printing the Decoder Ring on stiff cardstock.  You then need to cut out the two circles and layer them together with a brad.  Then you can decode the included puzzle to discover a fun fact!

Pigpen Cipher Decoder Ring

Learn more about this cipher by reading "Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing" by Martin Gardner.  You can download it from Amazon for the Kindle.  It's an easy read with loads of samples to decode.  I highly recommend it!

 Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Wooden Path

Wooden Path

Wooden Path is another fantastic online game that hones logical thinking skills.  There is also a sequel called Wooden Path 2.  The object of these games is to create a wooden path from one side of a river to another.  There are various obstacles in your way, like stone blocks and immovable wooden bridges.  You can move the stones out of your way, but be careful where you move them to!

You will also find transporters which can flip the orientation of bridges or stones.

And switches, that when connected will remove magical walls!

Wooden Path 2

Wooden Path 2 adds more challenges!

Some levels have mini puzzles...stone blocks that need to match up in certain ways to change the color of transporters.  Stones entering colored transporters change to that new color.  There are also sticks of dynamite to activate to blow up bridges and stones of your choice.

And when you've connect each side of the river with a wooden bridge, you win that level!  (I got three stars on this one!)

Wooden Path 1 and 2 are quite a lot of fun!  You can play both of these games on Flonga.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles - 2/12/14

 Today's puzzle is another secret message written in the Moon Type alphabet we learned about last week. This message is all about hearts!

Moon Type Coded Message

Just click on the image above and you can download the puzzle from Google Drive.  Don't forget, you will need the Moon Type Decoder Ring from last week to be able to decode this message.  If you don't have one yet, you can download that by clicking on the image below. 

Moon Type Decoder Ring

Good luck decoding your message!

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Monday, February 10, 2014



Utopia is a brainteaser puzzle from Popular Playthings.  The instructions describe Utopia as "the city of the future and the ultimate way to test your city planning skills."

Utopia comes with 16 skyscrapers, 1 game board, 50 challenge cards, and instructions.  There are 4 skyscrapers in 4 colors, each color with a different height.  The skyscrapers are sturdy and fun to play with!

The object of the game is to place all 16 buildings on the game board using the clues presented on each challenge card.  The answers are on the backs of the cards.

There are two phases of play.  Cards 1-25 cover phase one.  This challenge phase adheres to the rules of Sudoku, so that each row and each column of the game board must contain 4 different height buildings.

Utopia works the same way most puzzle games do...pick a challenge card, set up the board, and study the clues until you figure out an answer.  The first several cards of the phase one challenges can be solved using only the rules of Sudoku.  But then it starts getting tricky!  The clues provided on the challenge cards hinge on the idea of viewpoint.  So how many buildings can you see when you look down a row or a column.  Look at the above photo...see the big green skyscraper in the bottom right?  If you looked up that column from below, you would only be able to see that one skyscraper.  All the scrapers behind it get hidden from view.  So you will see a small white arrow on the game card with a number one in it pointing up that column.  Get it?

Here's a completed phase one challenge.  As you move along in phase one, less clues are presented.  Many later challenges don't even have any starting buildings for you to place!  But the Sudoku rules make phase one SO much easier than phase two.  My 10 year old could solve many of the phase one challenges, but found phase two rather confusing.

On to phase two.  You can see the white arrows have now been replaced with red arrows and we have left the Sudoku rules behind.  Phase two allows buildings of the same height to be in the same rows or columns.  So the red arrows tell you how many buildings you can see with the same height!  So a red arrow with a 4 in it means all the buildings in that row are exactly the same!

The first couple challenges in phase two aren't too bad, but then they throw in a mix of white and red arrows and I think my mind just might explode!  Phase two is definitely for more advanced puzzle solvers.  I managed to get through about half of phase two before I needed a serious break!

Which included peanut M&M's as replacement buildings!

Here's a completed phase two challenge.  You can see how buildings of the same height are allowed together here.

So if I have confused you trying to describe the game play, don't worry.  The instruction booklet for Utopia is quite clear with very nice diagrams to help you along!

While I was playing, I kept track of some tips and solving strategies that I thought I'd share with you too.
Phase One Tips and Strategies:
     * use the rules of Sudoku to place the buildings'll fill most of the board quite easily this way
     * a white arrow with a 1 in it means you should place a green building at the start of the row or column
     * a white arrow with a 4 in it means you should place the buildings in this order; blue, orange, yellow, green (or smallest to largest)
     * a 1 and a 2 at opposite end of a row or column means there is a green skyscraper next to the 1 (on the one end) and a yellow skyscraper next to the 2 (on the other end)
     * a 2 and 3 at opposite ends of a row or column means that the green skyscraper will be 2 places away from the 2 end (or 3 places away from the 3 end)
     * (are you completely confused now?  I think pictures would probably have been better...I'll have to do that later.)

Phase Two Tips and Strategies:
     * don't get tripped up thinking that a red arrow with a 3 in it means that those 3 same buildings must be adjacent to each other...there might be a shorter one hiding in the middle!
     * a white arrow with a 4 in it still means the same thing as in phase one
     * a white arrow with a 1 in it does NOT necessarily mean that a green tower should come first!!!

Do you have any tips or tricks for Utopia?  I'd really like to hear some for phase two!

You can buy Utopia at Amazon or at Popular Playthings (or you favorite game shop!)

 City Square Off

And if you like this city style game, check out my post about City Square Off.  It's a 2 player puzzle game with city building!

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Five On Friday

Georgia Aquarium

1)  Technically, this happened last week, but since I didn't blog last week (busy with family), I'll add it to this week.  We had a visit from our North Dakota relatives and spent 2 days in Atlanta with them.  We got to see some whale sharks at the aquarium there...if you're ever in Atlanta, you totally have to visit the whale sharks...AMAZING!  We did almost get stuck in Atlanta, as we were there the day the "blizzard" blew in.  But we managed to leave early enough and made it safely home.  My ND relatives were boggled at why this tiny amount of snow was causing so many problems.  They came south for a week to escape the cold and snow, but then they brought some with them! :-)


2)  Look what showed up in my mailbox yesterday!  The day before I got a copy of the Bejeweled Board Game in the mail.  It was a mystery who sent them until my friends in FL called last night to see if we'd gotten them!  They know how much we love games and puzzles, and these are perfect!  Jack stayed up until 9:45pm last night solving the Perplexus.  He was completely addicted!

Crytpo Animals Puzzle

3)  This week I'm working on some more Crypto-Animals puzzles for my store (like the one above).  These puzzles focus on practicing 2 digit addition and subtraction.  There will be 5 addition puzzles without carrying, 5 subtraction puzzles without borrowing, 5 addition puzzles with carrying, and 5 subtraction puzzles with borrowing.  Each puzzle includes clues to a different mystery animal!

National Puzzle Day

4)  I don't know how I missed this day!  Wish I had know it was coming up, but I'm sure I'll remember next year.  Here's a neat article about the "Importance of Doing Puzzles With Your Kids" from the Huffington Post.  Lots of reasons why puzzling with your kids is important, not just on this one day of the year either!

Rubiks Mosaic

5)  In puzzling news, some students at Rice University put together a mosaic of Nelson Mandela using Rubik's Cubes!  You can watch a video here.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 2/5/14

Today's free puzzle is a substitution cipher! There is a secret message encoded using Moon Type, which is an embossed alphabet created for the blind. We won't be embossing the letters in this puzzle, but looking at the shapes of the symbols instead.

The really fun part of today's puzzle is the Decoder Ring! Print the Decoder on card stock (stiff paper). Cut out the circles and the small notch, then layer the smaller circle on top of the larger circle and insert a brad in the center. Here's what they look like...

Moon Type Decoder Ring Puzzle

My brads were HUGE!  I would recommend smaller brads so the information in the center of the ring doesn't get covered up.  Once your Decoder Rings are constructed, your kids can have hours of fun writing up secret messages for their siblings and friends!

Just click on the picture above to download the puzzle sheet and decoder.

I hope you enjoy these!

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