Article for ABC Magazine

How to take a logical route without feeling ...

puzzled about presents

There are always those people for whom buying a present is a puzzle in itself,  Whether you have no ideas on what they might like or they seem to have everything, sometimes another pair of socks just won’t suffice!  There is also the challenge of what to give a child who’s only really interested in computer games.  The ‘educational disguised as fun’ type present can be tricky to get right.

Turn the challenge round, give them  something to do, something to occupy and entertain themselves with, and then show off their skill.  Something that requires a little logic and patience.

So how do you select a ‘logic puzzle’?

‘A logic puzzle is essentially a math problem that requires the use of deduction to arrive at a solution.  Logic puzzles aren’t just about doing math problems though – they’re also about getting your mind to think in different ways to solve problems creatively.  If you’re mathematically inclined, you may find that logic puzzles provide you with opportunities to exercise your brain power and have fun at the same time.’
(by eHow Hobbies, Games & Toys Editor)

When it comes to ‘logic puzzles’ we have the obvious choice of Sudoku or that eighties classic, The Rubik’s Cube.  Or now you can combine both and present the true puzzle fanatic with the ultimate challenge: The Sudoku Cube (£4 from Amazon.co.uk)

For that personal touch, how about customising a Rubik’s Cube with photos of family members.  Available from www.rubiks.com are blank cubes with a set of customisable sticker sets.

‘Imagine the long battle of trying to put Grandma back together again.’ 
(Nicholas Deleon – Gizmodo.com)

Remember that traditional game of logic, the jigsaw?  Alphabet Jigsaws have a great selection based on maps.

The brilliantly coloured Map Jigsaw of Britain shows the counties of England, Scotland and Wales – now I’m prepared to bet that most of us could do with brushing up on them!  Educational, environmentally friendly and entertaining, this is a child’s toy to cherish.
(www.objects-of-design.com £30)

There are a number of beautifully crafted wooden 3D jigsaws and brainteaser puzzles such as those from www.craftpuzzles.com

Tangram Puzzles are based on well-known Chinese square puzzles – for those puzzled by their love life.

The Heart Tangram consists of nine geometric bricks that can be made into a number of different shapes. (www.objects’of’design.com £10)

Having developed more spacial awareness, perhaps it’s time for a game of dominoes, or even pentominoes.

Katamino is based on the twelve unique shapes called pentominoes that can be created by connecting five identical squares edge to edge.  Katamino is suited to all ages but particularly allows children to acquire their first notions of solid geometry and to develop their observation and logical powers whilst enjoying themselves.  The idea is to use the shapes to build longer and longer rectangles, taking one more piece each time.  The puzzle starts easy, and then gets harder and harder, so everyone can find a level that challenges them.  The combinations are virtually infinite in variety.

The colourful plastic 2D version is a hit with parents and schools, and the natural wood version, Katamino Luxe – has been a huge hit with serious puzzlers, is a great coffee table piece, and has the added dimension. (www.katamino.co.uk Basic £12.99 Luxe £24.99)

Moving along the puzzling route we have presently taken, our map reading skills and special awareness have navigated the direction, but we are yet to reach another dimension.  As we approach the city centre, it’s rush hour and we hit a traffic jam.  Rush Hour Traffic Jam Puzzle is like a progressive version of those ‘pocket money’ puzzles that consisted of a flat grid of 4 x 4 square plastic pieces that make up a picture with the aim of the game being to de-scramble the picture by sliding the squares into place.  The multiple award winning ‘Rush Hour’ series has that novelty factor that fuels popularity.  By navigating mini vehicles through a traffic jam, this puzzle is closer to a real life kind of challenge.  Accelerating this toy from puzzle to game status! (www.puzzles.com £9.99)

Back en route, the light is at the end of the tunnel.  For a really bright idea, welcome to the light of Smarty Lamps, where ‘The light is at the end of the puzzle’ and we enter another dimension.

The Smarty Lamps Lampshade Puzzle Kit combines the factors of being an educational, addictively challenging yet fun puzzle with a functional purpose.  By solving the puzzle you have created more than a lampshade, it’s art!  A beautiful, mathematical centrepiece to brighten up any room.  No extra light fittings are required, the lampshade grips round the pendant cable hanging from most ceilings.  It looks equally superb hanging from a kid’s bedroom ceiling or dad’s study.  Style consciousness meets science.  A practical exercise with a glowing result.  Think Tetris , ice cream cone inspired, space age origami.  Interior design has never been this fun!

With a Smarty Lamps Lampshade Puzzle Pack you can create different lampshade shapes.  Once you’ve made one, you’ll want top make them all.  If you fancy a change of lampshade, take it down and simply make another. To make even bigger shade shapes add more packs of pieces.  Wow your friends with your creativity.  (From £15 www.smartylamps.co.uk)

Assembling the lampshade’s identical, interlocking, quadrilateral pieces is surprisingly satisfying!  Step by step instructions are overtaken by logical thinking when you start to understand the geometry of the shape and follow a pattern.  It’s like a 3D jigsaw but easier as all the pieces look the same!

So with the basic pack of thirty identical pieces, up to fifteen different shapes can be made.  First you make a sphere shape and use all thirty pieces.  The kits comes with patterns for twenty two different shapes ranging from the small but cute ‘Enok’ (nine pieces) right up to the ‘Electra’ (one hundred and twenty pieces), which is out of this world.

For those who want to skip to the conclusion, the lampshades are also available to buy ready-made and ready to hang from www.smartylamps.co.uk.




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