How do you teach your kids to think critically and analyze available information to solve a puzzle or problem? There are several logic and/or critical thinking curricula available in workbook format, though most are written for upper elementary and older students. To include younger children and your hands-on learners in mastering these critical thinking skills, there is another option–Mastermind. As a homeschool mom, I’m always on the lookout for products and activities that can reinforce, or better teach, concepts that our kids need to master. Critical thinking and analysis are learned over time, with experience and practice. A way to gain that experience and practice without doing the same old thing or another workbook page always enhances learning. I love the idea of a challenging game that encourages my kids to THINK while they are having fun. My family found that both Mastermind and Mastermind Towers did exactly that. I could almost see the new synapses forming as our children tried to break the code created by a sibling. 🙂 It required memory, analysis of the data and creation of a new hypothesis based upon that data, until they finally arrived at the correct sequence to crack the code.
Mastermind Classic gives players ten turns to “break the code” created by their opponent. Breaking the code consists of determining the colors of the 4 pegs selected by the Codemaker, and their sequence. With each guess the Codemaker lets the Codebreaker know how many pegs are the correct color and how many are in the correct order. This is done by placing red and white pegs at the top of the corresponding row. Using that information, the codebreaker completes the next row, using clues from previous guesses. Each player gets ten chances to decipher the puzzle and the one who can break the other’s code, in the fewest turns, is the winner.
There is no flimsy, cardboard game board to take care of. The heavy plastic game tray actually has a built-in compartment to contain all the game pegs. As a mom, I know what you’re thinking — all those tiny pieces! This game is definitely created for slightly older children and adults. For kids in the lower elementary grades or preschool, Mastermind Towers would be a more appropriate choice. The concept is the same as the original game, but with fewer and much larger game pieces. Each child builds a sequence of pictures into their tower and the other must try to “break the code” (determine the sequence of the pictures). As they ask questions and receive the answers, they must exercise their critical thinking muscles and memory to remember the location of pieces they have already guessed correctly and “rearrange” the others to complete the sequence. Another nice thing about Mastermind Towers, is that you could work with as few as three tiles for younger children, to help the game play go more quickly, as well as to build their thinking skill and confidence. As they become more adept at deciphering the code, you can increase the number of tiles used.
If you think Mastermind looks somewhat familiar, you’re right. This is a remake of a classic game from a time when conversation and face-to-face activity around the family dining table were commonplace. If you’re looking for a frugal way to boost your family’s thinking power and reconnect over some fun and challenging activity, Mastermind games will be sure to be a hit in your home, as they were in ours. These games have won several awards and Mastermind Towers was featured on ABC’s Hottest Toys for Fall in October of 2010. At only $15 for the Mastermind Classic Edition and $12 for Mastermind Towers Animal Edition these are great values for a frugal family entertainment budget. There are other editions available, as well, including Ultimate Mastermind for you hardcore brain-builders. 🙂
Pressman Toys has been incredibly generous and is sponsoring two giveaways, one for the classic Mastermind Game and one for a Mastermind Towers Animal edition. Entry is easy, so be sure you register for a chance to share these fun educational games with your own family!
You must be 18 or older and a resident of the U.S. to enter. Mandatory Entry must be completed before Optional entries will be counted. Two winners, one for each game, will be selected by random drawing, using random.org. Deadline to enter is midnight (CST), Sunday May 29, 2011.
In a comment below, tell me which Mastermind game edition would be a good fit for your family.
Additional Optional Entries:
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- Post this giveaway on your Facebook page. Enter to win one of two Mastermind boardgames at Busy-at-Home. Test your powers of reasoning, critical thinking and logic! http://ow.ly/4RJzx Leave a comment below with a link to your post.
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I received Mastermind and Mastermind Towers from Pressman Toys, in order to test them and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own. The winner will receive their prize directly from Pressman Toys at the conclusion of the giveaway.