Puzzle Games That Teenagers Like: Izzi

I didn't actually mean for this to turn into a series, but the kids and I messed around with SO many logic games and puzzles and fidgets recently as we absolutely burned through The Great Gatsby audiobook (if you can listen to a book read by Sean Astin, LISTEN TO A BOOK READ BY SEAN ASTIN!) that it really got me thinking about them and the place that they've held in our homeschool high school. 

That place has been central. Absolutely essential. I know I've said this before, but so much of homeschooling high school is having conversations together, or absorbing content together that you're then going to have conversations about. Just last week, which was a short school week interrupted by some service learning and a day trip, we finished The Great Gatsby audiobook, then talked about it endlessly since, and watched a two-hour documentary on Frida Kahlo, then talked about it endlessly since. This week we'll be reading some history together, so we can talk about it endlessly, and some short fiction, which, yes, we'll then talk about endlessly. Over the past 10+ years of interacting with these two kids in meaningful conversation and the consumption of educational content, I've noticed that they pay more attention when they have something to do with their hands, and that they demonstrate more intellectual engagement when their hands are also engaged.

If they're the only people in their college lecture halls with drawing pads and crochet projects and fidgets, then so be it.

This puzzle, Izzi, is currently out of print (although ThinkFun has a different puzzle by the same name. Did they buy Izzi and rework it? Dunno!), but I have learned that it is a pattern puzzle--more specifically, an edge-matching pattern puzzle--and it's quite good on several levels. The colors and patterns are appealing, and like Shashibo, you can make interesting patterns and shapes with pleasing symmetry:

But like those pesky pentominoes that the kids and I also love, this beautiful pattern puzzle is also a legitimately challenging puzzle, with endless ways to just almost solve it... except for that one last piece!


I know that these puzzles have academic value, but I'd love to isolate the specific values that intersect with their appeal, and use those to tempt my teenagers into adjacent areas of study. I can clearly see the possibilities in computer programming and mathematics, but I haven't yet found a specific connection that would serve as a direct step from puzzle to further exploration.

And that's why I have so many books on puzzles, logic, and recreational mathematics on hold for me at my local university's library!