Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can Junior Be Just as Fun?

Can this Junior lessen the difficulty without lessening the fun? (photo courtesy: Plasmart)

WHAT: Perplexus Rookie
DOES: It's just like Perplexus but easier; more primary colors.  It's even slightly smaller than Perplexus- better for smaller hands.
INVEST:  $17-23
TOOLS: Express Yourself, My Body Needs to Move, Social Scene Helper, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer

See first post on Perplexus (Original) here

Sometimes a great toy should never come out with a Junior version but thankfully the Perplexus Rookie is not one of them.  I say that I'm grateful because when I bought the Perplexus Original for Number 2, I could tell it was a little too hard for him.  However, with a toy like that, it's kind of hard to help aside from cheering him on and telling him to go easy.  He just has to get through it.

But the Rookie is a lifesaver because it does an effective job of lessening the level of difficulty while still being tons of fun.  Moreover, the label on the box clearly says 4 and up and since he is still 4, it encourages him to hope for the best: You can finish this someday. You can do it.

He might lose interest before he reaches #70 which is the endpoint to the Perplexus Rookie but that is okay (#100 is the endpoint for Perplexus Original).  I don't mind if things are hard, the point is to try and have fun trying.  This is a lesson that both my kids are learning all the time. (me too)

I especially try to teach this lesson to Number 1 who is now 8 years old.  He often puts pressure on himself to do well and I found out that he is not the only kid to do this.  According to Dr. Lauter, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Number 1 falls into a group termed by some experts as "Latency Kids."  "These are children ages 6-12 who are at a stage where they develop tremendous acquisition of skill sets and are being industrious in their practice at becoming good at something." Dr. Lauter also said that this is why so many kids sign up for dance and Pee Wee football at this age.  "They imagine and dream about doing those things when they become adults."

Dr. Lauter also referred to a developmental psychologist named Erik Erikson, who described this stage as "Industry vs. Inferiority."  Kids are comparing their self-worth to others and thus a child's experience in school plays an important role in a child's life.  Kids really want to be industrious and successful.  "It is an age of making things, so to speak," Dr. Lauter said.

But what are we making here?  Perplexus is but one sphere with the maze locked safely inside.

"There is a "making" that goes on here," Dr. Lauter said.  "The 'making' is being able to develop a series of technological skills with your brain and with your hands that allow you to do visual sorting and visual analysis."  He also said that this kind of "making" provides ways for your child to figure out very complex patterns so that he can manipulate and master this maze.

It took me a while to soak it in but all of it makes sense to me now.  I have always wanted my kids to make things, build things, and create things.  But I think I have forgotten why this is important.  It was never my goal to have inventive creations and art projects all over the house.  All I really want is for them is to develop the skills they need to do the things they want to do right now as well as in the future.  I guess that makes me a little bit more grateful for Perplexus because I won't have to clean up anything they make! What they made is something that is tucked inside their brain. Cool!

However, on a more serious level, it's good to know that my kids have essentially "built" something while they reached for new heights on the Perplexus Original or Rookie.  Even if they may not have anything physical to show for the things they "made," I am comforted knowing that the resulting boost in self-confidence boost and actual skills is real.

How Does It Help a Body Needing to Move?

Sometimes when I kid is fidgety, he is taken outside to run around a bit but the Perplexus only requires you to use your hands and arms.  However, sometimes I find that when my kids' bodies need to move, I can often meet their needs just by having them quiet their minds.   Perplexus requires your concentration and I believe that when they are concentrating, the rest of their bodies are following suit.  Moreover, I find that many kids are quieting themselves especially when they work with their hands.  They don't always need to jump around when their body needs to move.  Sometimes they are antsy because they anxious so if you can quiet their anxieties, you can quiet their bodies.   The Perplexus is a quiet toy in itself (thank you- I hate noise).

So there it is.  It looks like with this maze, you are working on social skills without any people around, you are working on building skills without picking up a single block, and you are channeling your energy out without really moving your body around!  Now, that is amazing and that is Perplexus.

Want your own Rookie? Buy Perplexus Rookie thru my Amazon link!  Support Toys are Tools!

Disclosure statement: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion by the manufacturer or retailer of any of the mentioned products for the publication of this post.  The Perplexus Toys viewed by Dr. Lauter and myself were purchased by me.


  1. I had no idea there was a "junior" version! I'm off to Amazon now...

    I'm also interested in having my kiddo learn to create and build. As someone who has degrees in design (Architecture) I assumed it was a bit about me (or my husband, who has an engineering degree).

    The truth is, problem solving plays out in many ways later in life and I want my impulsive child to be able to eventually settle in and "observe himself observe the problem." The awareness of using problem solving strategies allows one to become more advanced in any field, I think.

    I can't think of any better preconditioning for life than a love of solving things which are complex...

  2. It arrived today, the very day my kiddo stayed home from school after vaccination fever... He was obsessed with it for a while, then got mad, had me put it away (on a high shelf) and then demanded it back again!

    It's back out again and he is playing with it again.....

    I LOVE that he can't keep away from it, finding something so worthwhile he will persevere is hard...

    A keeper (and I'll be ordering more for upcoming birthday presents)