Commercial math/logic games

Commercial math/logic games for middle and high school students

-  Susan Milner, University of the Fraser Valley

 

Most of these games have many levels, the highest of which are often challenging even for mathematically-inclined adults.  Don’t get fooled by the manufacturers’ suggested age, which is often something like “8+”.  That usually means an eight-year-old can follow the instructions and complete the first few puzzles.

 

 

game

# to play

multi-

level?

main features

made

by

Airport Traffic Control

1

yes

2D geometry, logic

SmartGames

Anaconda

1

yes

2D geometry, logic;

not only do you have to figure out how to put the snake together, you have to decide which side of each piece to use

SmartGames

Animal Logic

1

yes

sequential reasoning; logic

these puzzles go fairly quickly from straightforward to quite tricky

Fat Brain Toys

Antivirus

1

yes

sequential reasoning, 2D spatial reasoning

like Rush Hour but with an interesting diagonal grid

SmartGames

Ball of Whacks

1+

no

beautiful 3D geometry; 

free-form construction involving strong magnets

Creative Whack Co

Bend-It

1

yes

2D geometric logic puzzle;

bendable pieces make this game unusual

SmartGames

Burst

1 or 2

no

 

3D geometry involving pentagons & hexagons;

magnetic geodesic puzzle with variations

 

MindWalk

Camouflage North Pole

1

yes

2D geometry, logic

SmartGames

Cart Before the Horse

1

yes

logic, 2D spatial reasoning;

very good for building verbal precision

MindWare

Chocolate Fix

1

yes

logic, 2D spatial reasoning, visual clues

ThinkFun

Colour Code

1

yes

2D geometry, pattern recognition;

stack coloured shapes to make a given picture; appealing and easily accessible to younger students

SmartGames

Connect4

2

no

2D logic, strategy; several versions available;

easily accessible

Hasbro

Dee Cubes

1

yes

wooden 3D geometric puzzles; make the shapes suggested or create your own

Dee's Invention

Find Your Way Gnome

1

yes

pathways, spatial reasoning;

connect gnomes to homes without paths crossing

MindWare

Hide & Seek Canada

1

yes

2D shapes, logic;  what makes this “Canadian” is pictures of moose, beavers, raccoons & grizzlies; 

other versions of the game (Pirates,  Safari)  are available

SmartGames

Hoppers

1

yes

2D path, sequential reasoning;

this is a variation on peg solitaire

ThinkFun

IQ Circle

IQ Blocks

1

no

2D geometric puzzles;

I haven’t seen these sold anywhere in years, but they are very popular whenever I bring them out

Petoy

IQ Fit

1

yes

3D geometric puzzles;

these get nicely challenging

SmartGames

IQ Twist

1

yes

2D geometric puzzles;

these become surprisingly tricky

SmartGames

 Izzi

1+

yes

2D logical puzzles, very visual;

you can make this a free-form cooperative game for all ages

ThinkFun

Katamino

1+

y

2D puzzles based on Pentominoes; appealing wooden blocks; lots of levels; very accessible

Gigamic

Lab Mice

1

yes

pathways, spatial reasoning;

connect mice to cheese without paths crossing

MindWare

logic links

1

yes

logic; very good for building precision of speech;

you can find age-specific versions at the MindWare site

MindWare

Oblo

1

no

3D spherical puzzle; develops hand-eye coordination as well as spatial reasoning; very appealing

Great Circle Works

Penguins On Ice

1

yes

2D geometry, logic;

you can change the shape of the pieces, which makes this unusual; the puzzles get hard fairly quickly

SmartGames

Q-bitz

1+

yes

patterns; can played as solitaire, cooperatively, or as a competitive game; easily accessible

MindWare

Quantumino

1

not

really

3D geometry; very difficult – even the clues that come with it are hard to follow; look for the Youtube video;  a similar but more accessible game is Katamino

Family Games

Quarto

2

no

patterns, strategy; you choose your opponent’s next piece, which is unusual;

lovely wooden pieces, very tactile

Family Games

Qwirkle

1+

no

patterns, strategy; fun to play cooperatively (or solo) as well as competitively; feel free to make up your own patterns!

MindWare

Qwirkle Cubes 

2+

no

patterns, more strategy involved than with original Qwirkle

MindWare

River Crossing

1

yes

order of operations, logic, 2D spatial reasoning

ThinkFun

Rush Hour

1

yes

order of operations on a rectangular grid; spatial reasoning

very popular

ThinkFun

Set

1+

yes

pattern recognition, logic;  a real favourite

the original game is competitive, but it can be played cooperatively and solo (see  the Set website and my “Set variations”);

several versions available, including the original cards, a board game, and on-line

Set Enterprises

Spot It

2+

no

pattern recognition, requires mental rotations and resizing;

comes with several variations described by the manufacturer, all involving speed and competition;

easily accessible

Blue Orange

Square by Square

1

no

2D geometry, logic, visual;

easily accessible

ThinkFun

Swish

2+

yes

mental rotation of 2D shapes;

can play cooperatively as well as competitively

ThinkFun

Tantrix

1+

yes

2D mapping, logic; several versions available, including solitaire, multi-player, and on-line

Family Games

Tipover

1

yes

3D spatial reasoning, order of operations, visual

ThinkFun

Trucky3

1

yes

2D spatial reasoning;

don’t be fooled by the fact that it looks like a toy for toddlers - the puzzles get surprisingly tricky

SmartGames

Turnstile

1

yes

2D order of operations, logic;

this involves pieces that rotate, which is different

ThinkFun

Unhinged

1

yes

geometry, logic

gets tricky quite quickly

ThinkFun

Utopia

1

yes

3D reasoning; easily accessible

on-line versions:  Brainbashers  calls it “Skyscrapers”, while Simon Tatham  calls it “Towers”

Popular Playthings

 

 

 

 

 

3D tic-tac-toe

2

no

spatial reasoning; there are various versions, including on-line;

much more interesting than the 2D version, as you can keep playing until all the pieces are used up, then count the number of rows of three; outcomes are not easily predicted

various, or make your own