Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles - 7/30/14 - Back to School

Back to School Missing Words

Today's free puzzle has a Back To School theme!  Whether you teach homeschool or public school, your kids will appreciate a little fun on their first days back.  Try some puzzles to help get them warmed up and thinking again after a long summer of fun!

Just click on the picture above to download the puzzle from Google Drive.  If you have any difficulties, leave me a comment on this post.

Keep watch for more Back to School puzzles over the next couple weeks!

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Monday, July 28, 2014


For today's Puzzle in the Spotlight, I've actually chosen a multi-player game.  The interesting thing about Agricola is that it has a Solo version, so it can be considered a single-player game too!  I've been wanting a copy of Agricola for a very long time, but I wasn't willing to pay B&N $70 for it.  Last week we found it on the bargain bin for 50% off...and we now have a new game to play!

Agricola is a rather complex game for 1-5 players.  It is recommended for ages 12 and up.  And I would say, unless you and your kids are experienced, saavy game players, you might want to skip on this one!  My kids and I, of course, are quite saavy and experienced ;-), so we gave it a go!

Jack had bed head this morning!

We started our game last night, but by 8:30 Ginny was getting cranky, so we put everyone to bed and planned to finish in the morning.  Jack was so wound up by the game, he actually had a hard time sleeping!  Silly kid!  We did finish our first game this morning and Jack won.

It was slow going at first because the rule book is like an encyclopedia!  We barreled through this on our own, but I'd definitely recommend checking out the video below before reading the instructions, if it's your first time.  It helps clear up a lot of things and familiarizes you with the playing pieces.

It is a half hour long, but it's worth the watch and reading all the instructions will take longer, although you need to do that too!

I also read though this strategy guide from Game Knight which has some very good hints and tricks for play.

Jack and Ginny both really enjoyed this game.  I was surprised because Ginny generally loses interest in the longer games (she's only 11 after all!)

There is a "family" version of the game where you play without the cards, but both kids vetoed trying that first (to easy for them!), so we did use the Occupation and Minor Improvement cards.  And I think that was what made it so much fun for them!  Jack really enjoys card games like Pokemon and Magic the Gathering where each card can do something different.  The Occupation and Minor Improvement cards are just like that!  They had a great time trying to figure out which of their cards to play for the most benefit.

Here's a picture of our scores after the first game.  Jack upgraded his house to stone and he definitely had a point advantage doing that.

Agricola comes with 3 sets of cards.  We played with the easiest set, but the other sets add more complexity.  The kids and I agree, it's the cards that really make the game!  And you should definitely study your cards closely before you even consider your first move (you get 7 occupation and 7 minor improvements at the start).  They will probably dictate your strategy for each game.

Agricola meeples

We're considering getting some cooler meeples and vegeemeeples.  Or maybe making our own!  The ones in the picture above are on etsy, but they are super pricey!.

Ready for another round!

Well, those are our impressions after our first game.  We left all our game pieces out so we can play another after lunch!  Definitely check out the video and strategy guide if you want more info about Agricola. 

PS - You can get a copy of Agricola for $45 on Amazon, which isn't too bad a price.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some on Saturday - Last 2 Weeks in Virginia Beach

We got back from our month in Va Beach this weekend.  It was a wild and crazy time!

We biked at the Botanical Gardens.

Went to a Water Park with friends...the girls all had the same swimsuit from Target!

Had a glow stick night and a sleepover.

Watched Shaun the Sheep!

Made and played with Flexagons.

Played more badminton in the broiling lava hot sun.

Watched caterpillars eat all of Wendy's fennel.

Watched special features from the Lego Movie.

Watched donuts being made...

And ate them!

Played more games...

And ate ice cream!

Made awesome projects with sticker circuits!

Played more games.

And jumped at Cloud 9.

Totally awesome trip!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Perplexing Puzzles 7/9/14 - Road Trip Picto-Crosswords

Road Trip Nature Picto-Crosswords

Picto-Crosswords are coming your way!  You can combine these with the other Road Trip themed puzzles to create some fun puzzle packs for your kids to enjoy on those long summer road trips.  They'd be great for plane trips too!  Or even one of those rainy days when you can't be at the beach.  :-(

Road Trip Vehicles Picto-Crossword

Just click on any of the pictures to download a pdf file containing all the puzzles with answers. I've included two versions of each puzzle in this pack. One version has a Word List included for kids who need help spelling some of the harder words. The other version has no word list, so should prove more challenging. The Signs puzzle shows the signs without their words, so these will be even MORE challenging! Good luck!

Road Trip Animals Picto-Crossword

Road Trip Places Picto-Crossword

Road Trip Signs Picto-Crossword

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Monday, July 7, 2014

First Two Weeks In Va Beach

We are vacationing in Va Beach for the month!  Here are some pics from our first 2 weeks of activities!  We've been quite busy having fun.

Ginny had her 11th birthday.  Aunt Anna had a special cake made for her with an owl on it!

We went on a bike ride in the Great Dismal Swamp and saw a dung beetle rolling some poop!  That was really neat!

Saw "How to Train Your Dragon 2".

Spent a morning at the beach and was visited by a sand crab.  There were also a ton of dolphins out there and a bunch of fish that were swimming and jumping close to shore...probably trying to get away from the dolphins!

Gramps had a special moth visitor on his shirt!

We've played tons of games including Settlers, Carcassone, Blokus, Mexican Canasta, and Sevens.

We spent some time at parks playing badminton, frisbee, and hiking.

We visited Fort Monroe (totally awesome!)  We watched some fisherman on the pier.  One caught a skate and Jack and I almost cried when he cut off the tail...Skates are really cute!

Had a picnic at Ft Eustis and saw the mothball fleet.

Made an awesome robot for math club!  We did some work with spirographs, spirobots and this cool Spinbot from the Maker Shed!

 Found this crazy looking caterpillar on the back porch.  We've also had a couple BBQs with family and friends!

And this is what greeted me when I turned on the hall light to go upstairs to bed last night!  Gram's silly little kitties!  They are starting to get used to us and even let us pet them now and then!

Two more weeks to go.  We've got more swimming planned, a trip to a trampoline park (Cloud 9), more math club, more biking, and just tons of fun heading our way!

Hope your summer is turning out great too!

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