Wednesday, August 05, 2020

#MTBoSBlaugust - Solitaire on a Circle Game

I love to ask students to play games. Playing games is a great way to develop problem-solving skills as well as skills in reflection and persistence. While a lot of games can be played electronically these days, there is something to be said for actually sitting down on the floor with some kids and building structures, manipulating shapes, or rolling dice and moving pieces around a board. 
Strategy games are particularly good at helping develop problem-solving skills. I like games that  look simple, but require students to predict,  look for patterns, analyze mistakes, take risks, and learn through  failure. 

Students can play games against others or themselves. I like to have students begin with "solitaire" type  games or puzzles. After they have played several rounds or examples, I have them put their heads together and reflect on their strategies, failures, and successes.  Then I ask them to return to their games to try again.

One puzzle I like is called Solitaire on a Circle. It was conceived by Alexander Bogomolny, a mathematician and web developer who created this as a web-based puzzle. When Java applets were no longer supported on the web, I adapted the puzzle (with permission) for use in the classroom.  
Students look at the pattern in one of the example problems (there are 8 provided) and  place 10 two-color counters on the circle mat. The goal is remove all the counters from the circle. Students begin by removing one yellow counter. When they do this, they must flip any adjacent counters. Play continues  in this way until all counters have been removed or no remaining moves are possible.

If you want to try this with your students, you can download a PDF version for print and play. If you want to try a digital version, download a copy of these Google slides.

That's it for day 5 of #MTBoSBlaugust. I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what else I have to share. 

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