Ages: 6 and up
Cost: $30 (Buy at Target)
Math Ideas: Spatial reasoning, Logical Deduction
Questions to Ask:
How many moves would you need to get this puck out?
Where should you replace your puck?
A couple of weeks ago we ran out of paper towels:
My wife: "Maybe we could get some tomor-"
Me: "I'll go to Target!" [grabs keys, runs to door]
I'm always happy to make a Target run, since it seems like my search for every item takes me right past the games section. Weird.
Anyway, since I'm already there, I might as well check to see if there's anything new...
This time, I found a fascinating game that I can't thinking about: Tipsy.
How to Play
I've never seen a game quite like Tipsy, which is based on a game board that you tilt in order to slide the pieces. You really have to watch the video below to get a true sense of how the game works.
In Tipsy, each player picks a color of circular pucks. The goal of the game is to tilt the game board so that each puck slides off the game board through one of the gates on each side. Once a puck slides out, you flip it over and replace it anywhere on the board.
To determine the number of times you can tilt the board, you roll a die that has 1s, 2s, and 3s on its faces.
Watch the video below, where my son is playing red and I am blue.
Pretty cool, huh? When he replaced the puck, you might have noticed that he flipped it over. There are little dots on the other side to indicate that the piece has already exited the game, so you are easily able to keep track of the pieces.
Also, did you see that black puck in the center? If you are ever able to slide the black puck off the board, you automatically win. This creates a great tension, since even the player in the lead has to constantly play defense against this alternate way to win.
One last note: you do have to be very careful when tilting the board. Do it too quickly, and pucks could scatter everywhere.
Where's the Math?
Tipsy is a fantastic game for building a child's spatial reasoning experience.
Every move your child makes, they need to anticipate which pucks will slide and in which direction. And they can't take their move back once they've chosen it - the pieces all slide, and good luck trying to recreate the game state beforehand.
This gives your child a strong incentive to think predictively about the effects of their move on the board. To get all mathy about it, they have to look at a 2-dimensional game state and predict where the pieces will slide when they tilt the board in a third dimension. This mental hopping between two and three dimensions is great practice with spatial reasoning.
As your kids play, they'll start to figure out sequences of moves that lead to success. They'll start to move their pucks to the corners, place their exited pucks strategically back on the board, and undo all your moves in order to stymie your efforts.
As with most spatial reasoning games, their thinking won't necessarily feel mathematical to them (or to you), but I assure you, spatial reasoning is a powerful foundation on which to build mental models. If you can visualize a set of Tipsy moves, you are becoming more adept at the visualization skills that will support geometric thinking as well.
Questions to Ask
If your child is new to the game, you could start by asking them "If you tilt the board this way, which pucks will slide?" This simple question will reveal to them that they can make predictions, rather than simply tilting and hoping that the new game state helps them.
(For example, in the video above my son tilted the board one direction, then in the opposite direction. Did he notice that he essentially wasted a move? Maybe not this time, but as he develops his visualization skills, he'll start to make those connections)
Once they are more comfortable with the game, you can ask questions that sharpens their visualization skills further: "How many moves would you need to get this puck out?"
They'll need to visualize a sequence of distinct tilts, each of which alters the game state in different ways.
And of course, they could use a bit of help in thinking where to replace their puck.You could be nice and ask "Where could you replace your puck so that it blocks me?" They'll gleefully block your best efforts, but you don't mind. After all, they're thinking strategically.
Click here to buy Tipsy from Target