Three ancient brain teaser puzzles that have lasted the test of time

Three ancient brain teaser puzzles that have lasted the test of time

Puzzles and brain teasers are fun, challenging and stimulating activities that children have enjoyed for many generations. However, scientific studies have finally provided medical proof that brain teasers can actually improve brain function by helping to mold a child’s growing brain, improving memory, focus, creativity, analytical and problem solving skills, logical thinking, even stress management.  

Brain teasers and puzzles can be especially helpful for school age children who may be struggling with math, reading, vocabulary or other academic areas. Even very young and preschool age children can benefit from very basic or simple brainy toys and brain teaser puzzles that involve letters, numbers, shapes, sizes, colors and patterns.  

Over the years, some of the most popular varieties of puzzles have included palindromes, analogies, optical illusions, riddles and jokes, Sudoku, logic puzzles, cryptograms and codes, doublets, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word searches, mazes, and paradox puzzles also called lateral thinking puzzles.

Searching for games and toys that will stimulate your child? Puzzles that will inspire out-of-the box thinking? Here is some information on three specific challenging puzzles, all of ancient origins, which have lasted the test of time to become contemporary favorites. Despite their ancient origins, these popular brain teaser games have been adapted, and re-packaged through the eras as fun, challenging and exciting children’s activities.

Ancient Brain Teaser Puzzles That Have Lasted The Test of Time to Become Contemporary Favorites:

1)   Tan-grams: 

Tan-grams are wooden puzzles consisting of a variety of geometric shapes in different sizes.  Historians believe that tan-grams were first developed thousands of years ago in China, however, these puzzles gained popularity as parlor games in 19th century England, after British sailors brought the items back from Hong Kong.

Traditionally, tan-gram puzzles contained only seven pieces. Contemporary varieties of tan-gram puzzles may contain many more pieces. The object of a tan-gram puzzle is to create, in as short an amount of time as possible, different shapes such as flowers, rabbits, horses, bridges, or stars, using a combination of distinct shapes.   

2)   Dominoes: 

The most ancient domino sets dating from 1120 A.D., were discovered in China, and were made from bone and ivory inset with ebony. Dominoes, which foster analytical skills in counting, math, sequences, memory and organization, have remained one of the most popular brain teaser toys through the ages. The two most common domino games include Five-Up and Forty-Two. The game Mah Jong was originally based on ancient domino games. Modern variations on the classic domino games include, Mexican Train Dominoes, and Dizios.

3)   Sudoku

Sudoku originated in Japan. The word “Su” means number in Japanese, and “Doku” refers to the single place on the puzzle board that each number can fit into. Games such as magic squares, Latin squares, and Rubik’s cube are all based on the concept of Sudoku. 

Sudoku puzzles gained significant popularity in the late 1970s, after Howard Garns, a retired architect and freelance puzzle constructor, and first published one in Dell Magazine. Since then, Sudoku puzzles have become widely published in newspapers and magazines world wide, and have risen to become one of the most popular online games.

Tan-grams, Dominoes and Sudoku games will all ultimately benefit children by nurturing the valuable creative and analytical skills that will be needed for tasks in later later. If you are a parent or caregiver searching for educational games, toys, puzzles and brain teasers, be sure to consider these three items which can have a long lasting impact.  

Keep in mind, however, that selecting age-appropriate brain teasers is one of the most important considerations, as young children may be easily frustrated or even angered by puzzles that are too advanced for their age.

Resources: Brain teasers
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