The Tower of Hanoi (also known as the Tower of Brahma or Lucas’ Tower) is a mathematical game that was invented by Edouard Lucas, a French mathematician in 1883. There is a story that the game comes from an Indian temple in Kashi Vishwanath where there is a large room with 3 posts surrounded by 64 golden disks. The Brahmin priests have to act out a command from an ancient prophecy where they have to move these disks according to the rules of Brahma. According to legend, when the last disk is moved and the puzzle is completed, the world will end! But don’t worry, it is meant to take 585 billion years to complete it! Many believe that Lucas actually came up with this story himself as there doesn’t appear to be any mention of this game until 1883.

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You will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Compass
  • Paper

Draw and cut out circles of various sizes (no circle should be the same size), the least number of circles you need to cut out is 3.

I painted each circle a different colour, but that is optional.

On a piece of paper draw 3 circles in a row; these will be your “posts”

Rules of the game:

Stack the disks, from biggest to smallest, on the first circle; this is your tower.

The idea of the game is to move the tower from the first circle to the last circle.

The rules are:

  • Only one disk can be moved at a time;
  • Only the top disk on a stack can be moved.
  • Larger disks cannot go on smaller top of smaller ones.

Using only 3 disks you should be able to complete the task in as little as 7 moves.

tower of hanoi

I first came across this game while watching one of the Christmas lecture series on the BBC when I was a child. There was a race to see who could complete the task first in the least number of moves; the child or robot (I think the child won in the end). This is a brilliant brain teaser that will get both children and adults thinking.

tower of hanoi

EC trying to complete it with 5 disks.

EC and YC really enjoyed doing this game and kept trying to out do each other, I thought that they would stick to the 3 disks, but they decided that they wanted to give it a go with 5 of them!  They did get stuck a few times, but they did manage to complete the puzzle.

Pin for later:

Tower of Hanoi: A maths and logic puzzle, perfect for developing problem thinking in children.