Games – Jenga


I was very excited that my oldest son made it over the mountain to spend the weekend. After dinner I choose Jenga as it is a simple game to learn. Years ago we had the original Jenga game where you got to choose any piece to move. It was fun but needed another level of challenge. So when the new Jenga came out that was more challenging we got that and they have really enjoyed it.

Rules for updated version are simple. Stack the tower initially how ever you want mixing up the colors. Then each player rolls the die and has to follow the instructions regarding what type of piece they need to remove from the tower and then stack on the top without tipping it over. NOTE: you can not remove pieces from the very top layer. The dice have colors that match the pieces. Thus if the dice show blue and say mid I would have to find a blue piece that was in the middle and move it.

As usual my oldest likes to play it risky while his young brother just enjoys the experience of the game. So quickly the tower was balancing on only a couple of pegs in a few different areas. My dad had never played and was just trying to keep the tower from falling over. Which worked pretty well until he had an unlucky roll where he had to reverse another players moves and well the tower came tumbling down. Over all everyone seemed to enjoy the game and scolding other players for making the tower wobbly.

I love the design of the game because it really plays to the STEM learning areas. People have to use critical thinking in order to figure out pressure points and stability. The original game is good to start with before tackling this more challenging level. As I was playing I was thinking about how easy it would be to create a different set of dice. Then it popped into my head how the colors were like Uno, thus you could create a dice that had Skip, Reverse, etc (which would make it even more challenging).

Cycle 5 was all about Educators/Schooling and this game is one that fits into so many different areas and teachers from Kindergarten up through 12th grade (into college level) could use this game because it is both simple (just removing pieces) to complete (engineering to keep it upright). It also successfully involves play. Where it is easy to fail and then quickly start over. Holden’s et al. paper talks about the playfulness and social interactions which this game demonstrates. Just check out the faces of the people when it  stack tumbles – joy, excitement, laughter.


  1. Very nice play journal about Jenga – I had no idea there was an updated version. Plus, your idea about playing based off of UNO card colors is brilliant! You’re right, Jenga gets really exciting toward the end – and stressful! – when you’re trying to keep it together. I have played the human-sized version at a friend’s house and she actually wrote challenges in pen on the sides of the game pieces where the player that removes that piece has to do an extra task, ie. do a cartwheel, take a shot, etc. Obviously this is an adult version 🙂 Anyway, I agree that a game like Jenga can provide a ton of social interaction and critical thinking/problem-solving.

  2. I also like your idea for adding additional game play elements – that could be very fun to add that extra bit of challenge in. It also reminds me of giant Jenga (have you seen that?)…one could add some super cool physical elements to game play with the larger version. I’ll have to talk to our teen librarians who arrange Jenga games over the summer. The teens would particularly enjoy creating their own parameters and wider range of interactive options!

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