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Puzzles, Pirates and Penguins

Without pencils and paper, Junior School children tackled an array of perplexing puzzles – from balancing pirate penguins on shaky ships to constructing 3D colourful cubes. The children showed a great detail of perseverance as puzzles that initially appeared to be impossible were finally solved.

Working in mixed-ability groups the children had to solve problems against the clock. There was a real sense of enjoyment and excitement, as the children chattered and talked about different strategies and tried them out with varying degrees of success. Every one of the children in the room was focused on working out the problem.

The first activity, ‘Don’t Rock the Boat!’, required a large number of penguins to be balanced at the same time on the deck of a rather wobbly pirate ship, without them tumbling off into the ocean! This proved to be much easier said than done. The children worked slowly and carefully to position the pirate penguins on the decks. For this activity good teamwork was essential, as well as good hand-eye coordination and an understanding of balance and symmetry. Different strategies were discussed and tested to find the best one. On many attempts groups came very close to completing the puzzle, but in placing the final penguin all came tumbling down, and they were back to square one! All the children showed real determination and eventually managed to successfully balance every single penguin.

Other challenges included correctly sequencing shapes to create particular patterns, assembling giant 3D jigsaw cubes and constructing towering trees without them toppling over! Despite first appearing straightforward these puzzles proved tricky to complete!

All of those involved, including the teachers, thoroughly enjoyed the workshops.








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