Filling in Gaps, Tricking the Eye


image012Scientific American’s Mind
 magazine, an offshoot of the original SA publication, has a regular optical illusion feature that I always find fascinating. A while back it also featured an article highlighting skills possessed by the human eye that computers can’t duplicate. It was titled “Reading between the Lines: How We See Hidden Objects,” and written by one of my favorite scientific authors, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and his wife, Diane Rogers-Ramachandran. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jump Starting Your Imagination

image007Aerobics of the Mind author Marge Engelman taught me that our imagination tends to need a jump start. One of the exercises in her book that I have often used in my presentations (with her blessing) consists of putting a few lines on a piece of paper and asking participants to finish it in some way. If I simply said, “Draw something,” many people would spend a lot of time just figuring out what to do. Many wouldn’t draw anything at all. But give them a couple of uneven parallel lines and they make a book, a box, a candle and more. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Amazing Kim Scott

image006Many years ago I was introduced to Scott Kim at a party and found him delightful and accessible, even though he possessed a creative brain that was light years beyond my own abilities. He wrote the book Inversions– a book of names (like “dance” shown here) that read the same right side up, in the mirror and upside down – an astonishing 30+ years ago, and it’s still fascinating. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two Round Games – Spot It! and Hue Knew?

I’ve put the following games in the creative right brain column because they involve visual thinking, but I’ll let you decide if they really belong there. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Awesomeness of John Green

John Green

If you love the smell of rain, the clean, silvery smell when it first begins, that’s called “petrichor.” It’s a term coined by two Australian researchers in 1964 from two Greek words that have nothing whatever to do with rain. So says John Green in the Mental Floss YouTube show, “48 Things You Didn’t Know Had Names.” (http://mentalfloss.com/article/52660/48-things-you-didnt-know-had-names)  There are many, many more videos where that came from. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Connect through Conversation

creativeRight

FprsterJanuary 1st is the birthday (in 1879) of novelist E. M. Forster who wrote the words, “Only connect!” in the hope that readers would connect his prose with the passion in themselves. It is also my motto for MindPlay Connections, which is always written with the hope that it will serve as a prop to open up conversations between people who may not otherwise know they had anything in common. We know that having a strong social network is a key element in aging well, and finding common ground builds friendships. (Portrait of Mr. Forster by Roger Fry) Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gifts That Make Me Smile

creativeRight

8ballI contend that any product that makes me smile comes from creative right thinkers. Take, for example, the Magic 8 Ball. For over 60 years now, people have been turning this oversized cue ball upside down, asking it a question, and entrusting their future to it by slowly turning it over to reveal on a tiny triangle an answer they willingly believe. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Endless Pairs

creativeRight

SuchandSuchSuch and Such from Patch Products is essentially a game about pairs. As a timed competition, the idea is to read all five clues on your card and get your team to fill in the blank for each one before the minute timer tube runs out. In many groups, it’s fun to play by the competitive rules, but for groups of older adults, it’s also possible to play with a variety of adaptations. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Logical LineUp

logicalLeft

Line_upContinuing our theme of games to play with family and friends over the holidays, Lineup is a favorite in my household. Cutely subtitled by MindWare as “the memory game of quick looks and tricky crooks,” it’s really one that requires careful observation more than anything. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creative Apples

creativeRight

 The third week of November is always Game and Puzzle Week, dedicated to preserving the tradition of investing time with family and friends. In the U.S. it’s also a reminder to be thankful the following week for all those relationships.

Apples2applesOne game that fosters good family/friend fun is Apples to Apples from Out of the Box Games (www.otb-games.com).  As readers of this blog know, I am partial to games that encourage imaginative associations, and this one is a vocabulary-builder to boot. The premise is simple: One person serves as a judge – players take turns in that role – and as many as 10 others can be the word association players.

The judge deals 7 red apple cards (from a total of an astounding 749) face down to each player and draws one of 249 green apple cards from the pile, which he or she reads aloud. Players look at their 7 cards and choose one that is best described by the word on the green apple card. They place that face down in front of them, and then the judge mixes the cards up to disguise whose card is whose. The judge chooses the card s/he feels is the best match and then gives that green card to the player who submitted it. In a 4-player game, a winner is the first person to win 8 green cards. With 8 – 10 players, only 4 green cards are needed for a winner to be declared. The instructions include half a dozen variations of this basic premise, and below is an idea of my own.

Because there are hundreds of cards and infinite combinations, another way to play is to limit the number of beginning letters of words to play. For example, if you played only with cards containing words that began with the letter “R” some of your choices would be:

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blocks for Adults – Part 2 – Q-bitz

logicalLeft

Qbitz1Q-bitz is another Mindware game that physically bears a resemblance to two of the block products we mentioned in the previous blog, ArtBlocks™ and Nuevo. Like them, the basic element of the game is a wooden frame containing cubes, each of which has the same set of patterns on its six sides. The difference is that Q-bitz has four sets of 16 cubes in wooden frames and each cube is only 5/8” on each side. (Part 2 of our discussion of block games does note bear the line “For people of all ages,” because Q-bitz has many small, choke-risk pieces. The box says “ages 8 to adult.”) Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blocks for Adults – Or People of Any Age, Part 1

creativeRight

One relatively recent area of brain research I find fascinating is the connection of movement to learning. For example, “A report in the journal ‘Applied Cognitive Psychology’ demonstrated that volunteers who doodled during a dull verbal message were 29 percent better at recalling details from the message.” (http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3751901) Movement is also a stimulant to creativity, as almost every art form demonstrates. (Can you think of any art that doesn’t require movement of some part of the body – hands, voice, feet?) Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Creative Whack for Logical Left Brain Thinkers

logicalLeft

BallofWhacksRoger Von Oech has made a career of creative innovation basically since 1975 when he earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in the self-created interdisciplinary program “History of Ideas.” In the 1980s, he created and produced the “Innovation in Industry” conference series in Palo Alto, which included Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Charles Schwab, among many other business leaders. I first learned of him about that time through his books, A Whack on the Side of the Head, and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, and his creative card packs that draw on those ideas. I have used the ideas often in staff development and will someday write about why you should add them to you toolkit. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mathematical Mind

logicalLeft

BragdonbookAmong Allen Bragdon’s many accomplishments are these: the founding editor of Games magazine, the author of dozens of books, and director of The BrainWaves Center (www.brainwaves.com – fun website).  I met him about a dozen years ago and found him charming, although he is far more drawn to mathematical and logical puzzles than I will ever be. No ivory tower scientist, he races sailboats on Cape Cod in the summer and works in winter from his 14th century villa in Tuscany – a lifestyle I could envy if I were less content where I am. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t Give Me Your Lip

creativeRight

A lipogram is a word game that consists of writing new material or rewriting existing material by leaving out certain letters of the alphabet. (Lipogram comes from a Greek word meaning “missing letter.”) One of the most famous practitioners was A. Ross Eckler, who among other challenges he gave himself, rewrote the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb/ It fleece was white as snow” in multiple versions. The most common letter in English is “E,” so omitting that letter is challenging. Here is Mr. Eckler’s attempt: Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment