SmartCar 5x5

The story behind the creation of SmartCar 5x5

Raf Peeters, January 2016

SmartCar 5x5 is basically a redesigned SmartCar, an educational puzzle I designed in 2009. Although I always loved the game concept of the original SmartCar, I never really liked the way it looked. The challenges were interesting enough for older kids, but because of the wooden basis, it looked like a toy for a child of age 3.

So again, I tried to improve every aspect of the original game:

• The new SmartCar has slightly smaller blocks, making it easier to manipulate by young kids.

• The body of the car and wheels are now made of plastic. It’s now less heavy and it rolls now much better, without making irritating noises (kids can take care of that).

• I added more variation to the challenges. There are now 2 separate challenge booklets included in every box: one for preschool children and one for primary school children. The challenges for preschool are similar to the original version. You need 4 L-shaped blocks to make a car as shown. But the challenges for primary school require the use of 5 blocks, including the new orange block. This makes those challenges much harder.

• I simplified the game concept. In the original game every challenges was actually a double challenge. You had to fit the blocks in the wooden basis AND make sure that the eyes (which were printed on the blocks) looked forward. All other eyes needed to be hidden. This double challenge was a little too much for many young children. So in the new version the eyes are fixed to the body of the car, so that children can focus on the right position of the blocks.

• The car looks now slightly less childish, so that children in primary school don’t feel themselves too old for it.

• The car has a fifth wheel on the back. The only function of this wheel is to indicate very clearly the front and backside of the car in the challenge. In the previous version this was done by having a red and blue wheel. But for some children this hint was a little too subtle. The result is a new version of SmartCar that is and a better puzzle and a better toy.

UPDATE 2019: SmartGames introduces a very small version with different blocks and challenges named SmartCar MINI.

example of a Starter challenge/solution with 5 blocks

example of a Master challenge/solution with 5 blocks


1) Place the blocks next to the car’s chassis and choose a challenge.

2) Build a car using the wooden blocks to match the colors shown in the challenge. Challenges in the preschool booklet require only the 4 L-shaped blocks. 

• Starter challenges show a complete step-by-step building plan.

• Junior challenges show complete side views.

• Expert challenges show incomplete side views. The white squares indicate the colors that are not revealed and need to be solved in the challenge.

• Master challenges show an incomplete side and top view. 

For the challenges in the primary school booklet you need to use all 5 blocks, including the orange one. The Master challenges now show an incomplete front, side and top view.

3) There is only 1 solution, which can be found at the backside of each challenge.


Although some challenges might seem very simple for adults, they can be very hard for young children. Encourage kids by asking questions like:

• Where do you think you have to place the red block?

• Why do you think this block belongs there?

If a challenge is still too difficult, children can try to build the cars by looking at the solutions. 

Or they can use the car and blocks as a toy until they are ready to tackle the challenges.

Website ©2024 Raf Peeters

Products and images: © Smart