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Fruit Flies

Use your spatial reasoning to guide your fly from grape to grape. Don't be the first to run out.

Ages: 4+
Players: 2+
Time: Under 10 Minutes
Type: abstract games
Location: tabletop
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Ages: 4+
Players: 2+
Time: Under 10 Minutes
Type: abstract games
Location: tabletop

Instructions

Start by drawing a bunch of grapes, one circle at a time. Try to make your grape bunch fairly random.

A bunch of circles touching each other

Each player needs a marker of their own color. Grapes are green, dark blue, or purple, so if you've got those colors, then that's something to be grapeful for. The older player, Player 1, draws a dot in their color on any grape. This is their "fruit fly." Player 2 then places their fruit fly by drawing a dot in their color on any other grape (not necessarily right next to the other fly).

Once the flies have been placed, players take turns, starting with Player 2. On your turn, "eat" the grape your fly is on by shading it in, and then move your fly to any grape by drawing a new dot. The fly can move to any grape that is touching (that is to say "right next to") its current grape.

A green dot and a blue dot on circles
Initial placement of flies.
Bunch of circles with some colored in green and blue
After each player's first move.

Remember, Player 1 is the first to place their fly, but Player 2 is the first to move their fly to the next grape.

These flies are hungry, so keep them moving! Continue taking turns, coloring your grape, then moving your fly to a neighboring grape. Whichever fruit fly ends up stranded first (that is, can't move to a neighboring grape) loses.

End of game. Most grapes colored in.
Blue is stranded. Green wins!

Don't forget: it's Beast Academy Playground, not Beast Academy Study Hall. Change the rules, be silly, make mistakes, and try again. The Variations and Learning Notes are here for you if you want to dive deeper, but not all of them apply to learners of every age. The most important thing is to have fun.

This game is adapted from "Bunch of Grapes" by Walter Joris.

Variations d

Gray Grapes:

Fruit Flies is easy to play without using different colors. Keep track of whose fruit fly is whose by writing the first letter of your name as you move your fly around. Shade each grape as you go. Don't worry about covering up the letters. It isn't necessary to keep track of which grapes were eaten by which fly. The first fly to run out of grapes loses.

More Players:

Play Fruit Flies with additional players. As with the 2-player game, players should take turns moving their flies in the reverse order that they placed their flies. So, for example, if three players place flies in the order Player 1, Player 2, Player 3, then they should start moving their flies in the order Player 3, Player 2, Player 1.

Bunches of Bunches:

Start by drawing 2 separate bunches of grapes. Player 1 picks a grape bunch and places a fruit fly on it, then Player 2 places a fly on the same bunch. On the other bunch of grapes, Player 2 places their fly first, then Player 1. Once all the flies have been placed, players take turns, starting with Player 2, choosing one of their two flies to move. On your turn, you can choose either of your two flies to move. You don't necessarily need, for example, to choose a fly on the same bunch as your opponent in their previous turn. Once one of your flies is stranded, you can continue to play by moving your other fly. Play continues until one player's flies are both stranded with no more grapes to eat. The other player wins.

Classroom Tips d

Play Fruit Flies (or any of our abstract strategy games) after a test or quiz. Once students know these games, they can play them together in pairs or groups if they finish a task early.

Discussion Questions

  • Is there a good place to start for Player 1?
  • If you're Player 2, does it matter where you start compared to Player 1?
  • Which player has an advantage (if any)?
  • How does the game change if the bunch of grapes is longer and skinnier? Rounder?
  • What about a bunch of square grapes in a checkerboard pattern?
  • What other variations can you think of?

Alignment with Beast Academy Curriculum

  • Level 2, Chapter 12: Problem Solving
  • Level 4, Chapter 6: Logic

See Variations and Learning Notes for more ideas on how to adapt this activity and incorporate it into your classroom.

Learning Notes d

Strategy:

Look for opportunities to ask your child why they made the move they did, or to help them think through a move before they make it. This depends in part on counting the grapes that might be available after different moves. For example, consider the scenario below. It's Purple's move next. Which grape should they move to?

Bunch of circles with some colored in green and some purple

It's easy to see why the grape on the top right would be a bad idea, as the fly would then be stranded. Choosing either of the grapes on the left would eventually lead the fly down the side of the bunch where it would meet the green fly. Moving to the bottom left grape would potentially reach the bottom sooner, blocking off Green's progress. Moving to the top left grape would add a grape to the path that would be impossible to reach again later. So which is better? Here is a diagram of both possibilities (each of which assumes Green makes the logical move downward rather than getting stranded by moving up).

Bunch of numbered circles showing possible moves
Bunch of numbered circles showing possible moves

So moving to the bottom left grape would lead to both flies having four more grapes, and Purple being stranded on the following move. But moving to the top left grape would result in Purple having a fifth grape to eat, and Green being stranded.

A bunch of 3 circles. A bunch of 4 circles.
3 grapes that all touch each other. 4 grapes that all touch each other.

Can 5 grapes be drawn so that every grape touches every other grape? Let kids try. Expand the question so that the shapes don't need to be round or resemble grapes in any way. Is it possible to draw 5 regions on a page such that each region touches each other region?

The short answer is: nope. For more information on this question, see our game Cartographer, and read about the Four Color Map Theorem.

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Materials
  • paper
  • pencil
  • markers (2 colors)
Learning Goals
  • strategic thinking
  • spatial reasoning
  • counting
Common Core Standards
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Ready to level up?

Keep problem solving with Beast Academy’s full math curriculum for students ages 7–13. Check out our captivating comic book series and immersive online platform.

LEARN MORE

Bring problem-solving to your classroom

Keep your entire class engaged with a full book and online math curriculum, for students ages 7–13. 98% of teachers say they’re satisfied with Beast Academy.

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Image of a BA book