So, given how much I've been thinking about it, it's no wonder that what I thought would be a ho-hum, pass the afternoon kind of game turned into an incredible brainstorm.
The kid and I were playing a Blue's Clues matching game. I was, truth be told, not 100% engaged, but it was a pleasant enough way to pass some time. At some point I noticed that this particular matching game was really quite tricky. You'd turn over two cards with green dogs on them but they were different in some very tiny ways.
Despite some very minor irritation that I might actually have to pay attention, I started to think about what those game designers were doing. Nothing like a little internal meta-conversation to help put the pieces together....
Attributes! On the matching game (brilliant, brilliant, game designers)! What if we made our own? Could we make our own?
"Do you wanna make our own matching game?" I asked the kid.
Needless to say, the answer was yes. We rushed around the house trying to locate the 3"x5" cards but, of course, they were nowhere to be found. I rounded up some other paper, the paper cutter, some shapes to trace, and the crayon caddy.
It was fast and furious, but in the midst of it all we managed to agree on
Geometric shapes only. This is (sneaky) math after all. We used tangram pieces, pattern blocks, some Cuisenaire rods, and some magnets from the fridge.
Each pair of cards has to be exactly the same. It's never too early to experience congruence, and what better way to do that then to be personally responsible for it? This is a key point in my still-developing argument (one that is based on my experience with Math in Your Feet as well as what I've been doing lately) -- it's one thing to observe congruence, it's another to have to be congruent yourself. I realized as we went along that the 'make a game' energy really motivated my kid to do this part up right. She paid a lot of attention to sameness in her designs.
Each pair of cards have to be different from the other sets in some way. We have yet to explore this fully, but this means that if you make make more than one set of triangle cards, the sets have to be different from each other in color or design or size.
It's this last point that created the most conversation as we created our cards together. According to the kid, I was altogether too boring in my designs. I would say, "But every design you make is colored in! They have to be different from each other, so I'm going to leave mine uncolored." This, apparently, motivated her to copy my 'boring' designs and make them 'more interesting' than mine!
So, we had a lot of levels of similar and different going on, including not only what we created but how we were doing it and what our personal design aesthetic was and how these creative choices were different or similar from each other. My brain hurts just thinking about it! See what you think:
All told, and in very short order, our prototype set of matching cards totalled fourteen pairs, which made for a very satisfactory game. I'd love to find a calmer time to for us to work more slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully on another set. She wants to make sets of matching games to sell at her ever-evolving lemonade-origami-bookmark stand in the spring, which I think might be motivation enough to take a closer look at how to generate similarity and differences.
If you end up making your own attribute matching game I would SO love to see what you create (please, please, please?!?).