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eLearning is an excellent way for business and educational organisations to present their training and development materials.  It is a very cost-effective form of training and it allows employees or students to do the training whenever it suits them.

When designing your e-course you will need to build in some form of testing and assessment so that your employees can monitor their progress.  The results will also show you whether your training materials are adequate or not.

Crosswords are a great tool to use when you need to assess someone’s knowledge on a particular topic.  Course designers can build them in to test vocabulary but they can also be used to assess the actual standard of learning.  Careful construction of clues and answers will let course designers assess what knowledge the employees have retained during the course.

Not only can puzzles be used for assessment, they can also help your employees and students to retain knowledge.  By completing a crossword your employee has a fun way to help them remember what they have just learnt.  A carefully constructed crossword will reinforce all the important points of learning.

If you are the e-course designer for your business or college, you might like to consider adding crosswords to your courses as an assessment tool.    The Clue Detective Puzzle Agency offers a range of freelance puzzle design services that can easily be incorporated into e-courses.  For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Image courtesy of Ambro http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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Solving puzzles has many benefits for people of all ages, particularly seniors and retirees. One of the many advantages is that they provide the opportunity to engage in an activity that fosters  lifelong learning.

A University of the Third Age may consider offering their members access to  crossword, codeword and sudoku puzzles.  Establishing a ‘digital puzzle club’ course can be a wonderful asset to your U3A program. It will be an something that participants will enjoy doing all year round.

Puzzling offers huge benefits!

Solving puzzles is very rewarding for all involved. Participants build their general knowledge, vocabulary and logic. It is also a wonderful way to enjoy the benefits of lifelong learning in a friendly, social setting. Members interpersonal and communication skills are enhanced by when they actively contribute to solving the puzzles

Boost digital literacy skills

Solving puzzles online works well using a large flat screen television, as it  facilitates effective group participation.  The use of (individual) iPads can also help members boost their digital literacy skills

What Clue Detective Offers

A Clue Detective puzzle subscription allows your U3A members to gain access to puzzles when they attend a course.  They can also login to the puzzle portal in another location. 

A U3A may also choose to liaise with their local library to see if they are a member of the Clue Detective’s Puzzling Network, allowing them to establish a cost-effective resource sharing arrangement.

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A healthy lifestyle is the key to a healthy brain.  We know that what we eat and drink has a direct impact on the cells of our brain and body.  But it’s also how we spend our days that has a big effect on our health in later life.

Engage your entire brain

As the Brain Foundation points out, our brains start to decline by 40 and those parts that we don’t often use are the parts that will deteriorate first.    For maximum brain health we need to do a variety of things rather than just repeating the same activities that we always do.  For example, if you only ever do crosswords your number skills or memory might decline.   You are concentrating your activity too much in one area of the brain.

The Brain Foundation of Australia  is a fantastic resource.  Their website is full of useful information and tips and tricks to show us how we can keep our brain fit and active.

The whole brain fitness picture

Don’t forget that using your brain is only one part of keeping it healthy.  You need to exercise your body to keep your circulation going.  You need to eat a healthy diet to keep your cells nourished.  Embrace life as much as you can, experience different activities, travel and meet new people.  The more physical and mental stimulation you can get, the better your brain health will be.

Solve puzzles for good brain health

Solving puzzles each day is a great way to exercise your brain.  Why not set yourself the task to solve a crossword or a codeword over the breakfast or during your commute to work?  All you need is your iPad.  You will energise yourself for the day ahead and reap huge benefits.  Start with easy puzzles and graduate to harder ones as you become more proficient.  It doesn’t take long, and it is very satisfying.

Clue Detective’s range of puzzles are designed that you can work on different parts of your brain.  Crosswords, codewords, sudoku, and trivia quizzes will all stimulate your brain in different ways.   Some require logic, some memory and all are just pure fun!  

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Puzzles are a greatactivity for kids to do to help them boost their self esteem; and the best thing is that it can often happen quite unconsciously, because they are having too much fun to notice!

Spelling long words can be a puzzle

My favourite word in the dictionary is ‘sesquipedalian’, and it means (a person who is ‘given to learning long words’ or a word ‘containing many syllables’. Learning to spell a long word can be like a puzzle in itself. I am often reminded of when I was about 7, my grandmother (a huge Scrabble fan, I might add), gave me a ‘challenge’ – to learn how to spell two words that were not included on the Grade 1 Spelling List, ‘government’ and ‘amazement’.

I spent considerable time doing this over the ensuing few weeks with my mother testing me and encouraging me along the way.  When I finally felt ready to spell out the words with sufficient confidence, I did so, and my grandmother was delighted.  I was very pleased too because, although a relatively small thing, it meant a lot at that time.  Suffice to say, over the years, I have never had any problem with spelling these two words.

Solving puzzles gives kids a sense of achievement

Once children have solved some puzzles successfully, and have experienced the sense of achievement that comes with doing so, they will want to do more and more.  This is fantastic, because it keeps their brains and minds active, and they have fun learning.

Effective learning for a child is vital,  and your role as a parent, teacher or grandparent is a very important part of this process.  There are many ways you can do this:

– Offer verbal encouragement to your children
– Sit down and complete puzzles with them
– Make sure that the puzzles are readily available for them

Playing games and solving puzzles is a wonderful way to spend quality family time together.

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If you have school-age children, crosswords and other types of puzzle games are great activities to supplement with their regular schoolwork.  They don’t have to stop learning just because they have come home.  If you have several children at school,  having a spelling bee around the dinner table is a great idea! You can choose to practise the spelling words they are learning at school, but don’t be afraid add some extra words to boost their general knowledge and vocabulary.

Make Up Your Own Trivia Questions

You might also like to run your own general knowledge quiz.  It can be great fun devising your own trivia questions, all you need is your imagination and general knowledge.  Our family used to do this when I was a child.  One of our favourite subjects was  Capital Cities.  It didn’t matter that my sister was two years younger, it was something we could both learn together, and we both relished the challenge when Dad asked us what the capital of Nicaragua was!

Alternatively if you have ideas about puzzle/quiz topics, and aren’t sure where to start, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We are happy to write something for you and add it to the Clue Detective website so all puzzlers can benefit.

Solve Word Puzzle Games

Why not try some kids crosswords on the Clue Detective Puzzle Agency website?  Crosswords and other puzzles are great for kids.  They will have fun, and at the same time it is an educational experience for them as well.  It will help them improve their spelling and build their vocabulary, which in turn will help with their school assignments.

Get the whole family puzzling together and have fun!

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Finding the solution to a puzzle is a way of mastering a challenge, and enhancing your problem solving skills.

How do you achieve this? Many of the challenges you encounter in life are physical.  Puzzles, such as crosswords, codewords, sudoku and trivia quizzes are brain challenges, where you need to use your knowledge of the English language, word structure and general facts, as well as your logic skills to find the answer.

With a a crossword, you are presented with a series of clues and need to build the answers into the grid, It’s a bit like completing a jigsaw puzzle.

A codeword is similar, except you don’t have clues, rather a letter and number code to crack, using several given letters that you are provided with at the outset.

A sudoku is a number logic puzzle.  In order to solve one, you need to follow the basic rule.  Each column, row and small group of 3×3 squares need to contain the numbers 1-9, with no numbers repeated.   This is sometimes easily said that done, because the configuration of the numbers in the grid determines the level of difficulty 0f the puzzle.  It’s all about correct placement and process of elimination.

A trivia quiz is a problem-solving game that hones your general knowledge and memory skills.  They are ideal for playing in a group because it allows different people to contribute their collective general knowledge.  We all know different things.  Everyone participating feels a sense of fulfilment if the all the questions are answered correctly.

All these puzzles are different in their basic characteristics, however, once solved, the result is the same for you the puzzler.  It is like solving any problem successfully.  You will feel a great sense of achievement.

Have fun practising your problem solving skills, by solving puzzles!

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There are a number of different types of word puzzle games that you can solve to keep your brain fit and healthy.  Whatever your favourite, you can solve them leisurely on your own, or with a group of friends.  A morning/afternoon coffee break is ideal.

Crosswords

Did you know that there are a number of different layouts for crosswords?  According to Wisegeek “the American-style grid usually has no more than one-sixth of its squares blacked out, and most of the letters will “check” each other. This means that getting most of the clues in one direction (across or down), will automatically supply the words for the other direction. British and Australian crossword puzzles have a lattice-style grid, with the black squares placed so that only about half the letters are checked.”

There is also the cryptic crossword which involves a lot more thought while you decipher the clues.  The clues need you to think laterally about the words they have used in the clue itself.  Only then can you find the answer.  The clue may be a two in one where you need to decipher each half to find the work.  Another clue will have two clues within it which both confirm the word.  For example Not seeing window covering (5) . The answer to not seeing and window covering is ‘blind’.

Codewords

Codewords are fun, not to mention a mind-bending challenge.  They look like a crossword puzzle with their grid layout but there are no clues to follow.  Instead each letter of the alphabet has been replaced with a number.  It is up to you to find out which letters have what number by deciphering the numbers on the grid.  It is not as hard as it sounds because you are usually given a starting point with 2 or 3 letters already having their numerical value shown.  Go through the puzzle and put the letter wherever you see its number then start to decipher the words.

Word Building Games

There are many types of word building games. Sometimes you don’t even need a puzzle grid to complete, you just need to think of words. An example of this is our Librarian’s Cat game. Get your friends together for a great vocabulary boosting session.

Word searches are another very popular choice. In this case you will see a gridded square filled with random letters.  At the bottom you will have clues or words that you need to locate within the square.  By looking carefully you will see words hidden in the random letters.  They might go up or down the grid, diagonally or even backwards, but they are there.

Of course there are lots of other word puzzles like jumbled words, anagrams, Scrabble and more.  All of these will keep your brain active.  Stretch your mind and try a few new types of puzzle.  You will enjoy it.

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When I was a child, my grandmother introduced my sister, brother and I to a great word building game.  It is called The Librarian’s Cat.  I would like to share it with you.  If you are looking for word puzzle games to play with your kids, then this it. Kids don’t have to have all the fun, adults can also play it and get a lot of enjoyment

The Librarian’s Cat will get you thinking, boost your vocabulary and improve your spelling One of the great benefits is that it will enhance your ability to solve crosswords and codewords.

Types of Words

We are all used to learning different types of words.  It’s part of our everyday life, really.  Nouns are the ‘naming words’, verbs are the ‘doing words’ and adjectives are the ‘describing words’.  Adjectives have always been my favourite.  They always seem to me to be the most interesting.  I particularly like the ones with several syllables and a variety of consonants and vowels.  friendlymarvellous,vivacious, just to name a few.

The Describing of a Cat : Word Play Fun

The way we used to play it was using the alphabet starting at A and rotating through our  group until we got to Z.  For example: The Librarian’s Cat is an amiable cat, the Librarians’s Cat is a boring cat, the Librarian’s cat is a cantankerous cat, the Librarian’s cat is daring cat, and so on.  The words can be as imaginative (and unrelated to each other), you get the idea…

The aim is to play the game is to start with an adjective and keep it going as long as you can.   Perhaps draw straws to see which person in your group will start.  Then the only rules you have to remember are that the word must be an adjective, and the next word has to start with the letter that the previous word ended with.

When you get to the letter X, you may think you have hit a roadblock. It is a case where X doesn’t mark the spot, unless of course, your cat has been x-rayed, or enjoys playing the xylophone!  Never fear, we have found the solution.  Although there are virtually no adjectives that start with the letter X, there are plenty that contain the sound EX.  Look for words like EXHILARATING, PERPLEXING, INEXORABLE.

Get To Know Your Dictionary

When playing The Librarian’s Cat, your dictionary is your best friend.  It helps you find and learn new words, check synonyms and antonyms, which will in turn help you come up with other words to use in the game.  Keep it on hand like you do when you play Scrabble.  Another good idea is to write the words down on a jotter, so that you will remember them for future reference, and continue to boost your vocabulary to enhance your ability to do more puzzles. The Librarian’s Cat Game can also double as a spelling bee.

The Game For All Occasions

It’s an ideal word game to play on a wet afternoon, or around the table at dinner time.  It’s great fun, and by the end of the game, I guarantee you’ll be in fits of laughter, because the words will be so many and varied.  You really become sorry for the poor cat!

Play the Librarian’s Cat word game when you are travelling in the car with the family. Don’t get bored with a long drive… have fun thinking and playing with words.  There are huge learning and entertainment benefits.  No toys or consoles required, just your thinking caps, which don’t take up any room in your luggage!

Why not build us a list of words and send them to the Clue Detective.  We will turn them into a crossword/codeword for you!

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Spelling bees are a great educational tool to help children boost their vocabulary and general knowledge.  In many ways they are just like a puzzle game that needs to be solved.  They are fun, but they can also be a daunting experience.  Simply standing in front of an audience (even if it is classmates) can be a scary thing to do.  But it’s a great way for kids to build their confidence and self esteem, and it can become quite competitive.

Preparing for a Spelling Bee

Preparing for a spelling bee is not the same as simply learning your words.  It is far easier to spell something correctly when you write it down.  The word ‘looks’ right.  When you are spelling out loud you don’t have the visual backup so it is easy to make a mistake.   As a parent, you can help by giving your child the opportunity to practice spelling their words out loud.

How Do Children Learn?

Children learn by repetition so you need to find fun ways for your child to spell their words.  Why not make it into a game?  We play for smarties in a simulated spelling bee game.  Each person takes it in turns to spell a word which is written on a card picked out of a ‘deck’.  You can include the words that your child needs to learn each week and build them up into a proper ‘deck’.  You might like to add words from the useful links below.  It is amazing how well the kids can spell when there is a treat waiting for them at the end of it.  earn a smartie for each correct word the winner gets something special.  You can even set it up as a team game.  This takes the pressure off a little bit because each member is focused on playing for the team, rather than just themselves.  The team who spells the most words correctly wins.

Practise Spelling Words Aloud – Make It Like A Game So It’s Fun

Getting your child to practise their words out loud, will make them feel much more confident, and they will develop his/her own technique for coping. It’s bit like being in their own spelling bee. Some will close their eyes and picture the word.  Others will rely on their hearing and sound the word out.  Practice is essential so they become comfortable with the technique before having to stand in front of an audience and spell.

Useful Spelling Links

Here are some links which are helpful for spelling bee words and techniques: Spellmasters Australia is an organisation that organises formal Spelling Bees.  The website is full of useful information including a page full of the basic rules of spelling.  It has a link to another Australian site called OzSpeller which has lists of spelling words according to year level. Good spelling forms a solid foundation for developing the skills to solve crosswords and other word puzzle games.

Send Us Your Spelling List

Crosswords and codewords are are great for boosting your child’s vocabulary.  Crosswords help with learning words and definitions, while codewords allow them to become familiar with word structure.  If you would like to have a say about theof words that go into Clue Detective crosswords, why not send us the spelling bee words you are currently working on to cluedetective@zoho.com

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It’s an issue which will confront us all at some stage.  When should we (or our parents) stop driving because we have become unsafe?

In the May 2013 edition of Royalauto, the RACV magazine, I read a sad but interesting story about Geoff and his gradual decline as a driver.  It began with subtle changes, in particular to do with his ability to judge speed and distance. 

These skills are controlled in the brain’s frontal temporal lobe and the decline was the first sign of the onset of dementia.  Geoff’s form of dementia was not due to Alzheimer’s disease.  Instead, he had frontal temporal lobe dementia.  The signs of dementia are not the same in everyone.  It depends on which sector of the brain is first affected.  In this case it was difficult to tell if the changes were due simply to age or something more.

Older drivers have been in the media a lot in recent times.  Have you noticed how many have accidentally driven into a store window? There are over 70,000 people in Victoria alone who are suffering from dementia, and while we don’t know what caused these accidents, it is possible that a memory slip might be responsible.

In Geoff’s case he looked after his brain and his health which is probably why he was able to ward off the effects of dementia so well for so long.  The first signs appeared while he was in his 50’s, which is very early. 

Until we can find a way to rid the world of this sad disease all we can do is look after our brains and our health.  We can lower the risk of dementia and delay its onset by focusing on different exercises and tasks, so we exercise the entire brain.

Discovering the benefits of solving puzzles early in life can help ward off dementia and preserve your independence as long as possible.  You will be able to sit confidently behind the steering wheel knowing that you have your full faculties available to you.

Image courtesy of Toa55 http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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