Kaleidograph

March 5, 2012

Maude turned 13 yesterday. Thirteen! To celebrate, we made her breakfast in bed. And immediately following that, she opened a Facebook account. : )

We had a small party in the afternoon that featured a berry tarte from our favorite bakery in Alençon, and a few gifts. We’ll host a party for her friends in a couple of weeks. (We’re working on the party plans now. We think we’ll go with a “spa” theme. I’ll be sure to share details.)

One of her gifts was a Kaleidograph. It’s such a cool toy! There are no rules, no winners, no strategy. You just combine cards to get different patterns. Doesn’t sound very fancy, I know. But it is shockingly satisfying to play around with. It’s the sort of toy I like to keep in the living room, on display, ready to be picked up by any guest or family member, because it’s appealing to people of all ages. It’s also the sort of toy I like to keep stocked in my gift stash. You can find them on Amazon.

My Dad had a thing for “grown-up toys” — the kind of objects that appeal to adults as much as kids — and I’ve found that I like to keep them around as well. Do you have any toys like that in your house? Is there an especially good one you’d recommend?

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vera March 5, 2012 at 7:10 am

Woohoo, happy birthday to Maude! And thanks for mentioning that cool toy, I imagine that would be something to bring on a road trip – if you aren’t driving of course. :)

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2 Amy March 5, 2012 at 7:11 am

My parents always kept a collection bent nail mind-twisters around. Here’s an example: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Puzzle-Bundle-Identical-Puzzles/dp/B00507I2OE

They also had bigger mind-twisters of the same type. One in particular that I remember involved horse shoes and chains, with a closed iron ring along the chain. Solving the puzzle involved a complicated series of maneuvers to get the iron ring out of the puzzle. Interestingly, one day, a young neighbor with severe dyslexia stopped by. He saw the horseshoe puzzle, picked it up, and solved the (very complicated) puzzle in a flash. It was my first introduction to the how brain differences allow people to “see” things differently.

I, too, have things like that laying around. Currently, my family and guests are enjoying playing with the Zolo, a Mr. Potato Head for grown ups that was in all the art museums in the late 1980s. (http://zolo.com/index.php/toys/zolo/zolo5)

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3 Kelly March 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I have a few Zolo sets and I love them so much that I rarely share them with my kids. On our coffee table, however, is Shut the Box and it gets played constantly. http://www.amazon.com/Front-Porch-Classics-Shut-Bookshelf/dp/B0007UDXSE/ref=pd_sim_t_3

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4 eastcoastmom, Spain March 5, 2012 at 7:27 am

Hope she had a great one! Our son is turning 13 in May and he´s also planning on getting a FB account…

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5 Shannon { A Mom's Year } March 5, 2012 at 7:28 am

Happy birthday to Maude!

I think the “grown-up toys” around here are mostly musical instruments and the karaoke machine. Fun for all ages!

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6 Susan March 5, 2012 at 7:29 am

We currently have a kaleidoscope and a Rubik’s cube out for play by any and all.

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7 Kat March 5, 2012 at 7:33 am

I like books with pages of different heads, bodies, legs that you can flip around with – creating different characters. but this toy looks fun. :) and happy 13th! i remember thats the age your sure your a teen

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8 Christa the BabbyMama March 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

I bought my husband one of these for Christmas: http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/aa64/ (out of stock now) and everyone loves it!

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9 Barchbo March 5, 2012 at 8:20 am

Happy Birthday, Maude! Welcome to Facebook!

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10 Megan March 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

Happy Birthday Maude!

We keep a collection of rubik’s cubes in our family room. There are a few regular 3×3′s and a 4×4 as well as a 360. We all like to play with Perplexus too so we have a few of those in different levels. Grandpa got a Perplexus from us for Christmas!

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11 juliagblair March 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

Maude, darling is a teen-ager! How marvelous! Got great reports from Kristen and her BYU friends. They LOVED their visit.
We love you!

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12 Angela March 5, 2012 at 8:53 am

Happy Birthday Maude! That is one awesome gift! Love it.

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13 Kristin March 5, 2012 at 8:55 am

Happy birthday to Maude!

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14 Cheryl March 5, 2012 at 9:19 am

Happy Birthday Maude!!

Warning :: terrible site ahead BUT the toy is so worth it!
http://www.ankerstein.org/

Richters Anker-Steinbaukasten are an amazing architectural building block set from Germany made out of quartz and linseed oil. This was the first thing I purchased when I got my first “adult” post-college paycheck. I put the set on my desk and made tons of friends in the office. They are amazing to play with, touch, feel, smell… and they have a very devoted following. The plans that come with the set are fun to figure out (no step by step instructions like legos, only a three dimensional rendering) and I absolutely treasure my set… so much that I haven’t let me kids play with _quite_ yet…

;-)

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15 Gretchen SB March 5, 2012 at 9:23 am

Fun toy!! Happy happy birthday to Maude!!

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16 Trudy March 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

Keva Blocks http://www.amazon.com/KEVA-400-Piece-Building-Blocks/dp/B001ENM3WU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1330968689&sr=8-2

It’s amazing what a good, light, precision-cut block can build. They are amazing and so different than the average toy store block!

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17 Jenna Vincent March 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

We love magformers for kids and adults alike.
https://glammatoys.com/item/47224

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18 Amy March 6, 2012 at 7:20 am

That’s what I was going to say. We have magformers in the family room and adults and kids play with them every time they come over. I bought ours last year when QVC did Christmas in July for a steal!

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19 Maureen March 5, 2012 at 11:29 am

We received a Find It game for Christmas and the entire family was obsessed with it. There are many different kinds:
http://www.finditgames.com/

Equally addicting is the Perplexus maze game. Our four year old frustrated everyone by being better at it than the adults!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002NPBT50/ref=asc_df_B002NPBT501924708?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395093&creativeASIN=B002NPBT50

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20 Kristen March 5, 2012 at 11:32 am

Happy birthday! Since no one’s mentioned anything like this yet, I’ll throw in my favorite toy-for-all-ages: Rory’s Story Cubes!!! Here’s a link to find out more about them: http://www.storycubes.com/

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21 Sandra March 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I have a set that always out on the kitchen table – a LOT of fun!

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22 Amy @Picture It March 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

I am NOT ready for the day my daughter gets a FB account, God help me. Love the Kaleidograph toy.

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23 Sharon @ Discovering blog March 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

I never grew up with a “family” toy, but I love the idea!
My 6 year old son is amazing with the mind-bender type puzzles, so I have to check out some of the links above.
Happy Birthday, Maude! You are a teenager now!

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24 Romi March 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Happy Birthday Maude! At our house everyone loves the magnetic Bucky Balls and Bucky Cubes. They are amazingly fun to play with for all ages.

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25 Cheryl Burchett March 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I tried the amazon link but it didn’t find the Kaleidograph toy. I then googled the name, cut and pasted so no misspellings, and only some kind of computer software came up. I would love to find it. Any other names or links for it?

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26 Cheryl Burchett March 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Oh! I just saw the link earlier in the article and it does work and OH MY you can play online!!!! Super Cool! Thanks for sharing!

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27 Jennifer March 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I got my husband a set of Buckyballs for Valentine’s Day, and we all–even the toddler–love playing with them.

Happy Birthday to Maude. :)

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28 Dee March 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Happy Birthday, Maude! Our PlasmaCar, stomp rocket, and the “brain quest” series of cards are much loved by all around these parts.

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29 Jessica March 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm

The Kaleidograph won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio GOLD Award! http://www.toyportfolio.com/SingleProduct.php?ProductID=6930

We love our Kaleidograph, too!

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30 Tasha March 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I adore all of these things! My dad just bought us all a different brain teaser hands-on puzzle as stocking stuffers from http://www.bitsandpieces.com – it was amazing how long we sat and solved (or didn’t) these things. We range in age from teens to fifties too:) Great fun! I love a good logic or visual teaser as well:) Always offering these to my students. I love the Kaleidograph – want!!!

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31 Monica March 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm

You know that Discovery Toys game where you have a set of cards that tells you how to set up little cars on a grid and you have to move them around to get the red car out? I think it’s called Rush Hour or Traffic Jam or something like that. We had one on our coffee table in college and EVERYONE would play it when they came over. Such a great game for all ages.

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32 Janelle March 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I second the Perplexus series- we have all three levels at our house. It engrosses most people who visit.

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33 Miss Frazzled March 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm

We are teaching our 7- and 9-year-old chess. A chess set could make a great all-ages toy.

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34 Sandra March 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Sniff….the kaleidograph doesn’t ship to Canada from Amazon. I’ll try other sources!

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35 Polly March 6, 2012 at 1:51 am

Wow love this! I could imagine playing with this for hours! xx

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36 Cherie March 6, 2012 at 1:54 am

We love our magnetic Yikerz game, its addictive for all ages. Our 6 yr old often wins out over adult competitors foolish enough to underestimate the skill involved!

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37 Kim March 6, 2012 at 5:01 am

Happy birthday!

We have a set of magnetic sticks and marbles that can be used to build geometric shapes. Everyone loves to play with them. There is also a sturdy set of tangrams that hangs out on the coffee table and gets played with a lot.

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38 Design Mom March 6, 2012 at 7:20 am

Thanks for the birthday wishes for Maude! She loved reading them. And thank you also for all the fun game ideas. Awesome!!

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39 Ann March 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I always loved Colorforms (“It’s Colorforms fun!”). I saw them a while back reissued but don’t know where. Today I bought Bananagrams at Target. They were on clearance. I’ve heard it is an addictive game and can’t wait to play after dinner tonight or just keep it in my purse for when we go out with the boyz.

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40 Joanie March 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I got my boys one of these wooden marble trees and everyone who comes over – regardless of age just gets addicted – such a soothing sound – here is a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dASQ6alSTGE
We also love storycubes. thanks for such an inspiring blog.

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41 Ann March 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Pinned it! It’s on my daughter’s wish list!

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42 Petra March 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

Happy Birthday to all the birthday Blairs this week! The Kaleidograph looks great and I love Ben Blair’s watch! And the colourful banners – so pretty!

A ‘toy’ one of ours got for a Christmas a while ago that has been a hit for anyone young or old to play with, is a Bauhaus design wooden spinning top with interchangeable colour wheels. We got it at MOMA, but I can’t see it available there anymore. Think you’d like it Gabrielle, with your graphic designer’s mind : ) Found it here:
http://www.nova68.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=naefbauhaus9718

Interested to hear that Maude got to open a Facebook account, my eldest daughter will be 13 this year too……..

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