A book of brainteasers to help keep kids away from screens

Are We There Yet? ‘Fun Unplugged’ is a book full of diverting puzzles to get kids off screens

It’s riddle time. Not screen time.

It’s riddle time. Not screen time.

 

My daughter has discovered riddles and for weeks now she’s been quizzing us on all sorts of conundrums. (a) “You are taking part in a running race,” she might ask. “You overtake the person in second place. What position are you in?” Or (b) “Two boxers are taking part in a match,” she’ll say. “Twelve rounds are scheduled but the match ends after six rounds when one boxer knocks out the other boxer, yet no man throws a punch. How is this possible? Or even (c) “If you drop a white hat into the Red Sea what will it become?”

Don’t worry, I’ll give you the answers at the end of this article, but in the meantime I have to say I’m delighted my kids are discovering the joy of brain teasers. It brought me back to my own childhood when we had nothing to play with except the traffic and no devices apart from our own ones which we were left to most of the time. Riddles were all we had when I were a lass. (And mud. I seem to remember we made a lot of mud pies in the garden.)

‘Fun Unplugged’ by Peter Cosgrove should keep children (and adults) away from those pesky devices this Christmas.
‘Fun Unplugged’ by Peter Cosgrove should keep children (and adults) away from those pesky devices this Christmas.

Anyway, my daughter discovered riddles and spookily a couple of days later a book full of them landed on my desk. The book is called Fun Unplugged by Peter Cosgrove and I hear booksellers are getting a lot of queries about it from parents desperate for non-screen related entertainment options over Christmas.

It’s got lots of riddles like the ones above but it also has so much more: code-breaking, fortune telling, tricks of the mind and the section – which as a unashamed notice-box I like best – things to make you the centre of attention. The tricks and challenges are easy to follow and guaranteed to impress any audience, even Uncle Bill who likes to discuss flat earth theory over the Brussels sprouts.

Withering brain power

I am a big fan of Cosgrove’s ingenious book and I liked it even more after I read about the findings of scientists at the University of California who have discovered that “the grunts coming from your children as you attempt to confiscate their iPads or smartphones could be a sign of their withering brain power”. Apparently, it’s more likely that kids who are glued to screens for a lot of the time show premature thinning of the cerebral cortex. This is not good news for their grey matter.

So riddles are where it’s at in my house at the moment. And the great thing is you can tell riddles anywhere. In the taxi I told my daughter one that I remembered as a child. “A young boy and his father are driving home when they are involved in a horrible car crash. The father dies at the scene of the accident, but the boy is still alive when the ambulance arrives. The injured boy is taken to the hospital, where’s he’s brought immediately into surgery.

“However, at the hospital the surgeon steps out of the operating room and says, “I can’t operate on this boy. He’s my son!”

The question: “How can this be?

As I was giving my daughter time to think it through, the taxi driver who clearly also remembered it from his childhood, inexplicably jumped in and told my daughter the answer.

“It was his mother, you see,” he said, delighted with himself. “The thing is, some people think that doctors or surgeons can only be men, But you see surgeons can be women too. And that’s the reasoning behind the answer to the riddle.”

My daughter was more entertained by the thunderous look I was giving the back of the taxi driver’s head for stealing my Michelle Obama-style teachable moment than she was by the answer.

Riddle me this. (d) What do you call it when a male taxi driver takes it upon himself to teach your daughter about unconscious bias?

Answers

(a) You are in second place

(b) It’s a boxing match between two women

(c) It will become wet

(d) Taxisplaining

Fun Unplugged by Peter Cosgrove is available in bookshops now. For more visit fununplugged.com

Seven things to do with your kids

Cuisine de France pop-up

The Cuisine de France pop-up on Drury Street Dublin is raising money for CRMH Crumlin.
The Cuisine de France pop-up on Drury Street Dublin is raising money for CMRF Crumlin.

Another Christmas pop-up has landed in Dublin. Located at No. 30 Drury Street, Dublin 2, La Petite Boulangerie will be open from 8am-3pm until Saturday, December 15th, with all proceeds going to Children’s Medical and Research Centre (CMRF) Crumlin. CMRF Crumlin provides vital funding for Our Lady’s Children Hospital, Crumlin and The National Children’s Research Centre to enable little patients to have the best possible outcomes.

Visitors to La Petite Boulangerie can expect delicious sweet and savoury creations, including croissants and Danish pastries alongside brandy mince puff and cinnamon swirls. On Friday, December 14th, Radio Nova presenter Lucy Kennedy alongside her co-host Colm Hayes is visiting the cafe.

Dolls at Christmas
The Museum of Childhood Project is always popping up with interesting displays and children who like dolls won’t want to miss this one. The Bloomfields Shopping Centre in Dún Laoghaire has been turned into a giant museum display cabinet featuring every kind of doll you can imagine including lots of old-fashioned Crolly Dolls. There’s also a doll’s house with storytelling from Dr Pat Donlon and Sarah Webb. Meanwhile, in nearby Bank of Ireland, there’s a book display of childhood favourites. For more see museumofchildhood.ie

Les Miserables
The big-budget spectacle touring from the West End has landed in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Enjoy Castle On A Cloud and all the other favourites at this award-winning musical. Dec 5th-Jan 12th, from €21. Tel: 01-6777770 bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

The Snow Queen

Actors from The Snow Queen pantomime at The Gaiety. Oh yes, they are.
Actors from The Snow Queen pantomime at The Gaiety. Oh yes, they are.

Will the Snow Queen freeze the fun out of Christmas? Oh no she won’t . . . or oh yes she will. You know what I mean. It’s Gaiety Panto time: Gaiety Theatre, South King St until Jan 20th. Tel: 01-6486029/0818-719388 gaietytheatre.ie

Polly and the Magic Lamp
With Rory Cowan, Ryan Andrews and Jake Carter. Olympia Theatre, Dame St, Dec 21st-Jan 6th. €26/€34. Tel: 0818-719330 ticketmaster.ie

Snow White
Alan Hughes returns as Sammy Sausages, regular interlocutor in the Cheerios Panto. With Joe Duffy as the Magic Mirror. Tivoli Theatre Dec 4th-Jan 17th, €15/€30. Tel: 01-4544472 tivoli.ie

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