Puzzles are for everyone; even the teeniest, tiniest toddlers among us can find something to love about a mechanical puzzle selected for their age group. Then, maybe even above their age group! This week, in honor of the digital age, we wanted to highlight some coding-related puzzles and brainteasers that are perfect for children. Don’t forget the always important disclaimer, however, that age ranges are just a suggestion. We recommend that all curious puzzlers out there continue to challenge themselves, no matter what age you are!
These days, kids are introduced to technology earlier and earlier, and the presence of technology and computer programming is ubiquitous in most school programs worth their salt. Children who are introduced to games and toys related to a coding or programming mindset will have a huge leg up if they choose to pursue a career in STEM later on. In fact, they’ll have a leg up in ANY field! The beauty of a mechanical puzzle is that it introduces new, stream-lined methods of critical thinking, without being planted in front of a screen all day. That being said, we have nothing against screens, it’s just nice for kids to have options! Everyone needs a break. Check out our suggestions below and keep in mind any kids in your life who could use a fun, subtly educational game to hone their brainpower.
Instant Insanity - Coding Puzzle
Instant Insanity might sound like it’s designed to drive you mad, but don’t be afraid! This bestseller is hand-held, small, and can be used over and over - similar to a Rubik’s Cube (but more fun and unique!). The goal is to get the same colors lined up on each side. Things get tricky after one side is lined up, because you end up messing up the first side you complete when you try to get another side completed. Solving this puzzle requires the formulaic mindset of a computer programmer: trying out options, realizing it doesn’t work, retracing your steps, trying new patterns of arrangement. We recommend this for any child approximately age 7+, and there are two other challenges included in the instructions that make this a 3 in 1 puzzle!
Mastermind – Code Breaking Game
Mastermind is an amazing code-breaking game for two players! One player is the codemaker and the other is the codebreaker. The codebreaker will try to crack a hidden, five-color code, in both order and color, within six attempts. Each guess is made by placing a row of colored pegs on the decoding board. After each attempt, the codemaker will provide a feedback by placing black and white pegs in the holes based on whether the colors and/or positions are correct. Once feedback is given, the codebreaker moves to the next row, but now with a growing map of colors with information to process in order to crack the code. The Mastermind board game helps develop skills like spatial reasoning, logical reasoning, critical thinking, strategical thinking, problem-solving, and creative thinking! Strategies for playing this game could be copied right out of a Computer Science 101 textbook, and kids love the idea of breaking a secret code. We recommend this puzzle for approximately ages 7 and up.
Here is an intriguing escape room style puzzle lock that requires no key to open! The Cryptex Puzzle Lock features a very unique maze mechanism with three hidden, wooden, sliding panels that can only be moved horizontally, while the metal balls can only be moved vertically in their slot. In order to solve the puzzle and open the lock, all three sliding panels must be navigated through their special maze. Yet again, a puzzle that requires logical, methodical thinking to solve. This is exactly the sort of puzzle given out to applicants while interviewing at companies like Google or Microsoft, so why not give it to your child now? If STEM fields are not your style, enjoy the puzzle as a challenge you might encounter in an escape room and be ready to amaze friends with your skills later on. We recommend this puzzle for children ages 10 and up.
This wooden brain teaser is made of eight wooden sticks (burr pieces) that interlock inside a box frame. The first challenge is to remove all the pieces. Then, the real challenge is to fit all eight sticks back into the box correctly so they interlock. Again, you’ll notice themes of trial and error, codes, and solutions where the order of actions matters a great deal. Not being able to view the pieces inside while you work is what makes this puzzle so infuriating and entertaining for children, and the puzzle has only two correct ways that the sticks will fit back inside. We recommend this puzzle for ages 7 and up, and it’s another puzzle that is small and portable.
Snake Cube – Brain Teaser Puzzle
For this puzzle, build your skill and patience as you twist the snake of 27 cubes back into its’ original 3x3x3 cube. This brain-teasing puzzle’s difficulty is legendary, and so satisfying when you return the winding length of little cubes back into its original cube form. Snake cubes are a bestseller, very unique, and they come in an assortment of different colors with each color having its own solution! Kids love that they get to pick their favorite color, and it makes for a fantastic fidget toy while they are working out the solution. It’s the type of puzzle where even after you solve it, you might find yourself absent-mindedly putting it back together while you watch tv to keep your hands busy. We recommend this puzzle for children ages 7 and up.
The purchase of a puzzle like the ones above is a sly, wise, and often under-rated way to invest in many mental and emotional benefits to the brain. Something often forgotten is that brainteasers and puzzles exercise both sides of a person’s brain, not just the logical side. It’s important to consider solutions of top-tier wooden puzzles with logic and objectiveness, but you also need that extra bit of creative intuition to try new solutions, view the puzzle from unique angles, and explore the trickiest steps that will lead to those satisfying “Aha!” moments. Code-Breaking puzzles expand the problem-solving ability of both children and adults. Being challenged to explore a variety of methods/styles/angles to solving a puzzle helps to develop high quality cognitive skills at rapid paces. Children’s brains are like sponges, so let them soak up the benefits of a fun puzzle! Mechanical puzzles are a relaxing, genuine mood-booster, and there is no greater sensation than cracking a code you’ve been working to break.
Cheers, and happy puzzling to our future code-breakers!