Yesterday, Katie dug up a game that she really liked to play a couple of years ago, but hasn’t played in a while. I was quite surprised to discover that Zoe is now capable of playing and enjoying the game as well (those little ones try so hard keep up with their older counterparts!).
The props for the game consist of some cards with houses drawn on them (courtesy of my sister) and a cutout animal that’s going to hide in one of the houses. Here is what the houses may look like:
As you can see, the houses come in different colors and with differently colored roofs. Furthermore, some subset of the houses come with chimneys and another subset of those have smoke coming out of the chimneys. The number of windows on each house varies from one to four. The object of the game is to determine which house the animal is hidden in by asking yes/no questions, the fewer the better.
After watching Katie play one game, Zoe picked up on the fact that instead of pointing to a single house and asking, “is the animal in here?” it is better to ask general questions such as “Is the animal hiding in a blue house?” or “Is the animal hiding in a house with 3 windows?” because then, regardless of the answer, you’ll be able to eliminate multiple houses. (Okay, she almost certainly did not think of it in those terms, but rather just tried to mimic the type of questions that Katie was asking.)
After Katie and I each had a turn hiding an animal (I had a choice of six different animals cut out. Choosing which animal to hide is always an exciting part of the game for kids.), Zoe demanded to be the secret holder. I didn’t think that she would be able to answer the questions consistently and not give away the hiding place until the end, but she surprised me once again. She placed her animal under one of the cards so that no part of it was visible, and after we asked all of our question, the animal was under the last remaining house! It was great to see her (and also Katie’s) excitement when the animal was actually revealed at the end.
Here is the sequence of “remaining” houses from one of our games (after each yes or no answer, the houses that corresponded to the opposite response are removed). Can you reproduce the sequence of questions? 🙂
There aren’t too many games in our house that can be equally enjoyed by both Zoe and Katie (although the list is slowly growing), and so I’m really glad to have added this one to that collection. And I think that soon we’ll be able to discuss “optimal” strategies with Katie, which hopefully will make her enjoy it on a different level rather than spoil it for her :-).