It’s Follow-Up Friday: Treasure Room edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of treasure hunts.

A treasure hunt (and its sibling, the scavenger hunt) are terrific puzzle events, because they can combine crafty trivia, questions, and deduction with some good old-fashioned physical activity as you chase down the next clue. (Sometimes, they even involve some digging, if your huntmaster is crafty enough.)

And the parents of one very lucky four-year-old are topnotch huntmasters.

Not only did they organize a treasure hunt for their son, complete with clues to unravel, but the final clue led to his bedroom, instructing him to push aside his dresser.

Behind the dresser, he discovered his birthday gift: a hidden treasure room, all for him!

As it turns out, when the birthday boy was almost two years old, he and his parents moved into a new house. The room intended for him had a small storage room attached, and in a fit of brilliance, his parents not only had the room refurbished, but they kept the room a secret for TWO YEARS before revealing it as his birthday gift for turning four.

Now that is some world-class puzzly skill being put to a wonderful use.

[This story originally appeared on Sarah Goer’s blog Things I Make, and I discovered a repost of the story on IO9.com. All pictures of the treasure room courtesy of Things I Make.]

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out our library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

Prep for College the Puzzly Way!

It’s summer here in the United States, which means many high-school graduates are already looking forward to starting college. But for those soon-to-be freshmen, as well as high schoolers looking for an edge before university, have you considered puzzles and board games?

Now, it comes as no shock to me, but this article from the U.S. News and World Report website might surprise some, since it lists puzzles and board games as two of its five tools to develop critical thinking skills before college!

Naturally, I’ve been an advocate of puzzles as a learning tool for a long time, so it’s gratifying to see a major publication sharing the same views and ideas.

From the article:

Collections of crossword puzzles, logic problems, riddles, sudoku, word problems and word searches can be found at your local bookstore or library. The puzzles in these books are a wonderful strategy to activate different parts of your brain for a round or two of mental gymnastics, and many collections even discuss what each puzzle is meant to target within the mind.

Allow me to expand on this for a bit. Different puzzles can target different skills, so which puzzles you solve can make a big difference when it comes to critical thinking.

Crosswords encourage deduction (figuring out words from a few common letters) and a facility with wordplay (dealing with crafty clues and alternate definitions), while word searches offer great practice in pattern recognition and quick reaction times.

And the demand that Sudoku puzzles place on active attentiveness and concentration exercises parts of the brain associated with forming new memories, encouraging better memory retention.

[All three of the above pics come from our line of puzzle apps! Perfect for puzzly pre-college practice! Shameless plug now concluded!]

But the article also mentioned that certain board games can be excellent tools for honing valuable mental skills for college.

Choose board games that require more than luck – namely, strategy – for players to win. Any game where players must carefully consider their next move, recognize patterns and remember details will aid in honing critical thinking skills.

The article goes on to suggest some classics, like Chess, Checkers, and Mastermind for learning chain-thinking (planning several steps ahead) as well as Scrabble and Boggle (speedy information analysis, as well as word formation) and Clue and Risk (anticipating and reacting to the gameplay of others).

But I think they’re excluding some prime examples of board games that could benefit younger minds.

  • You could pick a cooperative game like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, which not only encourage strategic thinking, but teamwork and the free exchange of ideas (something that forced group exercises in school never really managed).
  • You could choose a rapid-change game like Fluxx (either the board game or the card game), which forces the players to adapt quickly to constantly changing rules and gameplay (a perfect microcosm of problem-solving in the real world, where things rarely remain static for long).
  • You could select a mixed-play game like The Stars Are Right, which incorporates several forms of gameplay (in this case, pattern-forming, tile-shifting, and a strategic card game akin to Magic: The Gathering or Munchkin) and forces players to exercise different forms of strategy and puzzle-solving all at once.

Just think about it. You could turn Family Game Night or Family Puzzle Time into College Prep Time in a snap. It’s win-win, or perhaps even win-win-win. What could be simpler, or more fun, than that?

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out our library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Apps and Alex edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’ve got two terrific announcements for you all!

First and foremost, we’ve updated our Apps and iBooks page to reflect the latest puzzles and platforms available! Crosswords, Classic Word Search, and Sudoku puzzles await you there, ready for your mobile devices! Enjoy!

And second, since we’ve been talking about trivia recently, it seems utterly apropos that I stumbled across this video on the Guinness Book of World Records website this week.

It’s host Alex Trebek accepting the certificate for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter (Same Program), officially documented by Guinness (hardly the show’s first world record, but easily its most impressive).

For the record (and the Record!), Alex zoomed into first place by hosting his 6,829th episode of Jeopardy!:

Thank you for checking out Follow-Up Friday! If there have been any posts or puzzle-centric stories featured here that you’d like us to follow up on, let us know! It could be the subject of next week’s Follow-Up Friday post!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Word Search Edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

Today, I’d like to update you on what’s going on in the world of PuzzleNation apps and puzzles!

I’m happy to announce that we’ve just launched our latest puzzle game for the iPad, Classic Word Search!

With all sorts of delightful themed word lists, this is the word search solving you know and love, made easy with the touch of a fingertip! Just drag your finger along the words in the grid to loop them, and watch as they’re crossed off the word list one by one!

Accompanied by trivia for each themed word list, the puzzles in Classic Word Search are suitable for all ages and just waiting to be solved!

Classic Word Search joins the terrific lineup of apps and puzzle iBooks from PuzzleNation and Penny/Dell Puzzles, and we’re so excited to add another world-class puzzle to our mobile library.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation Blog today. Stop in again soon for the latest puzzle news, app announcements, and all sorts of puzzly goodness!

It’s Follow-Up Friday!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

Today, I’ve got two short updates for you.

First, there’s a new page on the blog for information about our apps and iBooks. For pictures, links, and details on our crossword, sudoku, and word seek puzzles, click here!

And be sure to bookmark it, since new apps will be added to the page as they’re released!

Second, a PuzzleNationer requested an update on this year’s Cicada 3301 puzzle.

Back in January, I wrote about the mysterious Cicada 3301, an elaborate multilayered scavenger hunt across the Internet that involves cryptography, research, and some serious cleverness to unravel.

It first appeared in January of 2012, until a few diligent and dedicated solvers unraveled its secrets, and the puzzle was shut down. Then in January of 2013, a new Cicada 3301 puzzle emerged, similarly challenging and just as short-lived.

January 2014 was no different, as the latest Cicada 3301 puzzle appeared. Unfortunately, as far as we know, no one has yet cracked it.

But one of the code wizards who solved Cicada 3301’s 2012 puzzle has come forward to offer advice to aspiring Cicada solvers:

Make sure that you have a good understanding of every part of the previous Cicada 3301 puzzles. If there is a subject you are not already well acquainted with, take your time to read and learn more about it.

Try to solve as much as possible of the earlier puzzles by yourself rather than just reading through a write-up.

For parts you do read, make sure you understand each step completely and try to think about how you would have arrived at the same conclusions by yourself.

Last but not least, enjoy the ride.

Are there any stories or features from the PuzzleNation Blog you’d like an update on? Let us know and your suggestion could be the focus of our next Follow-Up Friday!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation & Penny/Dell apps, iBooks, and games!

Check out our ever-expanding library of puzzle games for your mobile devices!


Classic Sudoku

With four levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard, and expert), a touch-to-scroll feature for entering numbers, and a timed option for competitive scoring, Classic Sudoku is available for the iPad and ready for solvers of all skill levels.

Plus, with our Candidates feature, you can list possible solutions in a box without jeopardizing your score or your time!


Penny/Dell Crosswords App and Jumbo Crosswords App

Featuring 150 all-new crosswords, Penny/Dell Jumbo Crosswords has several difficulty levels and all the topnotch features in the original Penny/Dell Crossword app!

The original Penny/Dell Crossword App is available for iPad and iPhone. It features smart navigation to move you to partially filled-in entries and an alternate-clue option to help you solve!


Classic Word Search app and iBooks

The perfect word search experience is at your fingertips with Classic Word Search!

With all sorts of delightful themed word lists, this is the word search solving you know and love, made easy with the touch of a fingertip! Just drag your finger along the words in the grid to loop them, and watch as they’re crossed off the word list one by one!

Also available for Android tablets and Kindle Fire, Classic Word Search puzzles are appropriate for all ages and come complete with interesting trivia for each themed word list.

And don’t forget that Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 are all available as iBooks for the iPad’s eReader app! With plenty of puzzles to keep you busy, Classic Word Search is a terrific way to pass the time!

And stay tuned, fellow puzzle fiends. We look forward to adding new puzzles to our library soon!