## Blokus®

It was with some excitement that I picked up my brand new game called Blokus® (pictured) from The Games Shop (Royal Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne. Even though I shelled out \$50 of my hard earned cash I was confident that my money would be well spent.

This wonderful game has its own website where you can learn the rules and play online! The game requires a combination of 2D spatial awareness and logic. There is even a 3D version!

I have noticed that some students (and teachers) have a definite weakness with spatial skills. For example, in a year 11 class today I produced a tangram puzzle at the end of the lesson and quickly noticed that the first two students to try the puzzle had difficulty “seeing” all the different ways a particular piece could be placed (flips and turns). I can only conclude that this a part of the mathematics curriculum that is often neglected and needs much more attention. The various forms of the Blokus® game would help with this.

The classic game for 2 to 4 players has a 20 x 20 square board. Each player has 21 pieces which he/she takes turns to place on the board joined only at the corners.

The 21 pieces consist of: 1 monomino, 1 domino, 2 triominoes, 5 tetrominoes; and 12 pentominoes. The pentominoes are shown below:

Pentominoes and hexominoes are rich in mathematics – but I’ll leave that for a future post.

Blokus® gameplay can be very social or very serious. Although very simple to learn, the inherent complexities of skillful play will keep players interested long term. It is perhaps not surprising that this game was invented by a mathematician – I highly recommend it to you!

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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### 3 Responses to Blokus®

1. Cassyt says:

I too, have truly enjoyed this game. So much so, that two years ago, my then 12 yr old spent \$30 on the Trigon version. AND… everyone in the family hates that version.

My thought is that it is more challenging the the original, but I guess it could be that we’re purists. I once spent months seeking out older versions of the games Careers and Payday on ebay for us.

2. Cassyt says:

Thanks for the link to the online site!

3. Mr. D says:

I think regular old Tetris is just as good at teaching kids (or anyone) to improve their spatial reasoning and problem solving skills. The original makers of Tetris have started up a new website with a lot of variations on the game that you can play for free (including lots of competitive versions of the game you play against other online players). It’s called Tetris Friends.