# My first guest blog

I have just had my first guest blog published! I wrote a blog on four in a row games for Thinkfun. It encourages people to look beyond Connect Four, and includes a printable game board to play this famous game on a horizontal surface.

# Goodbye before Coronavirus closed the school at the Curious Minds Club (St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, 20 March 2020)

I knew this would be our last session before Coronavirus closed the schools. I wanted to make it light and fun for the children so I left the construction materials at home and bought in a selection of games and puzzles.

Here are the ones we played:

It was very strange and sad saying goodbye to the children at the end and not knowing when I will see them again. I really hope I get the chance to finish building the Archimedean Solids with them.

# Further fun with the Archimedean Solids at the Curious Minds Club (St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, 13 March 2020)

This week at the Curious Minds Club we continued to build the 13 Archimedean Solids, with Polydron Frameworks and Magformers.

My Y2 girl who got half way through a Truncated Icosahedron two weeks ago (then had to miss last week’s session) was happy to finish it. She then got her first go at Magformers. She made several of the Platonic Solids from looking at a picture of the net, then made a lovely symmetrical pattern on her own initiative.

I asked my two Y1s to build a Truncated Cube in Polydron. Once they had got the alternation correct at the start (put a triangle on one edge of the octagon, miss one edge, add another triangle etc) they were able to bring the whole solid together. They needed a little help snapping it together at the end.

My Y5 boy completed the Icosidodecahedron in Polydon, having made it in Magformers last week. My Y4 girl made the Cuboctahedron in Polydron first, then in Magformers. She built the Rhombicuboctahedron in a Polydron net really quickly, then needed quite a lot of help bringing it together. With a few minutes left at the end I gave her the Tangram puzzle. She solved it in a few minutes with no help. My Y6 girl and Y6 boy attempted the Rhombicuboctahedron in Polydron. It didn’t go quite to plan. Bob was born instead.

Here are the photos:

Y2 girl. Truncated Icosahedron (you may know it as a football); three Platonic Solids (can you name them?)

Y1 girl. Truncated Cube; half an Icosidodecahedron (to be continued).

Y1 boy. Truncated Cube; Truncated Octahedron; a Heart.

Y4 girl. Rhombicuboctahedron; Cuboctahedron; a completed Tangram.

Y5 boy. Icosidodecahedron. Really pleased with the angle I took this at: you can really see the line of reflection symmetry.

Y6 girl.   Meet Bob. Apparently he doesn’t have a best side. He looks good from every side. Hard to disagree.

# A review of Baffled, the game where you need ‘the Memory of an Elephant’

I was sent a copy of Baffled by Cheatwell Games in exchange for an honest review.

I played this game today with my partner and daughter, just turned 9. The game lasted about half an hour.

Game overview: you have 60 seconds to memorise the position of twelve symbol tiles; the symbols constantly swap and change positions; you have to find symbols, name them, swap them or test other players; the winner is the last player left in the game.

Things we liked:

the game feels solid and well built, and I do like a fold-up game board (for some reason);

colourful and good size playing pieces which are not at all fiddly;

the ‘Life cards’ are a clever idea and it is good that they are visible to all players;

we liked the opportunity to win back a life;

lots of variety in the actions needed: naming, asking, swapping and finding three of something;

we liked the tip about how to memorise the symbols by making mental connections;

it is interesting to notice the strategic choices people make: my daughter swapped then later re-swapped the same pair of symbols;

we liked the fact that this game is not easy, and that it provides a challenge for both adults and children. I thought I was good at memory games until I played this, but I went out of the game before my daughter. We agree with the maker’s claim that the game ‘helps develop vital memory skills’. I did notice that I was getting better at the game as it went along: I may have picked the wrong symbol but it was the correct colour;

the makers claim the game is ‘cleverly designed so that children and adults have an equal chance of winning’. We agree with this claim: an adult will not necessarily win if a child is concentrating hard;

the die is translucent!

Things to consider:

You have 60 seconds to memorise the positions of the symbols but no timing device is provided. You could use a watch (does anyone still wear one?) or a phone stopwatch. You might want to ask everyone to be silent during this 60 seconds so no one is distracted. I blame my poor performance on my daughter bellowing a Jason Donovan song in my ear.

Some people will be easily baffled by Baffled and find it frustrating. The hardest part is the constantly changing board. You might consider playing a version where you ignore the eight swap squares: if a counter lands on a swap square then move to the next square. This version could build the confidence of a less able player until they are ready to play the full version.

You will be referring to the rules sheet a lot when you play your first game but not so much at the end of the game. This shows that the board itself is quite easy to understand.

You probably won’t want to play a second game straight away as you will still be remembering the positions of the symbols from the end of the previous game.

I asked my daughter what she thought at the end. She said she was ‘looking forward to playing it when the schools are closed for coronavirus’. I’m sure she can’t wait for the schools to close, the little monkey.

I am sure we will play this game again. It is a useful addition to my collection of memory games.

I plan to include Baffled in a future blog post on 10 great memory games, similar to my recent post on 10 great visual perception games.

If you buy Baffled there is no financial gain for me.

My ebook ‘Starting a School Board Games Club: How to Win at Having Fun and Learning Through Play’ is available on Amazon.

# Continuing the Archimedean Solids at the Curious Minds Club (St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, 6 March 2020)

This week at the Curious Minds Club we continued to build the 13 Archimedean Solids. We used Polydron Frameworks and a new material – Magformers.

My Y6 girl and Y6 boy sat together and used the Polydron. They started with the Truncated Dodecahedron. I then asked them to make the Cuboctahedron, explaining that it uses the six squares from the Cube and the eight triangles from the Octahedron (hence the name). Continuing with this theme, I asked them to make the Icosidodecahedron: it uses the 20 triangles from the Icosahedron and the 12 pentagons from the Dodecahedron. They needed very little help from me to work through these.

Meanwhile I introduced my Y1 girl, Y1 boy and Y5 boy to Magformers. The younger children can find it hard to snap together the Polydron pieces so I wanted to try them on a material that uses magnets to join the pieces together. I started them on all five Platonic Solids, asking them to use a picture of the net to make the shape in two dimensions, then lift it up and join the edges together. This worked really well. Even the Icosahedron comes together well, provided you work from one end to make one half, then switch to the other end, make the other half and bring them together.

My Year 1 girl was then determined to have a go at the Truncated Icosahedron in Polydron. She had seen an older girl make one last week and must have thought “I can do that”. With some reminders that every pentagon is surrounded by hexagons she was able to complete this one. She took it out to show her mum at the end and looked very proud.

I asked my Y1 boy to make a Cuboctahedron in Magformers, from a picture of its net. He cracked the net and just needed a little help lifting it up and joining the edges. He then made some fun shapes: a fish, hourglass and small star.

My Y5 boy also made the Cuboctahedron in Magformers. He then asked for ‘something harder’ so I showed him the net of the Icosidodecahedron, which he cracked. Not content with this, he went on to make a copy of the Compound of Two Tetrahedron (not an Archimedean Solid but I brought my model with me again as it is such a nice thing to look at). He worked really hard to figure out where each of the 24 triangles should go.

Here are the photos.

Y6 girl. Truncated Dodecahedron; Icosidodecahedron.

Y6 boy. Truncated Dodecahedron; Cuboctahedron.

Y1 girl. Truncated Icosahedron.

Y1 boy. Cuboctahedron; Fish; Hourglass; two views of a Small Star; one of the Dodecahedrons.

Y5 boy. Cuboctahedron; one of the Dodecahedrons; Icosidodecahedron; Compound of Two Tetrahedra.

At the end of the session it is irresistible to build some towers.

This one gets bigger and bigger. It ended with a Tetrahedron on top, then threatened to topple over so we had to stop.