In this and the following posts I will be going through my puzzles and games collection with the intention of explaining exactly which skills all of the puzzles and games help to build.
So in no particular order I'll start with Last Mouse Lost (עכברון אחרון Achbaron Acharon in Hebrew - a much more catchy name if you ask me).
Last Mouse Lost is a great game because it is so simple - it is made up of one component (a rubber circle with pieces to pop down, making it like reusable bubble wrap) and the rules are incredibly simple to learn.
1. Players take turns pressing down any number of mice (that are alongside each other) that they wish in a single row.
2. The player who presses down the last mouse is the loser.
Last Mouse Lost is suitable for ages six and up (adults can have fun playing with it as well) and a the fact that it is a one piece game makes it an excellent travel companion for kids - no lose parts!
[It is worth noting that one potential downside to the game though is it's simplicity. The lack of different variables might mean that for some, this game just isn't complex enough.]
So, what skills does it help with?
1. Mathematical skills
Specifically working with odd and even numbers and being able to make mental calculations. In order not to be left with the last mouse, players need to be able to calculate how many mice there are left in the circle and whether they need to pop an odd number or an even number of mice to ensure their victory.
2. Planning ahead, considering what your opponent will do
Thinking one step ahead - "if I do this then she could do this and then I could do this." "If I do this then there will be 5 mice left and this is what could happen..."
3. Moving from an "it's just luck" mentality to a "there's strategy involved" mentality
Children playing this game for the first time are likely to have a lot of fun popping the mice and not pay so much attention to strategy. The person who wins will win because they were lucky. Through playing the game repeatedly though, children will come to understand that there is strategy involved and certain things that they can do to help them win the game.
For more on Last Mouse Lost see this post by Sam Blanco.