Rebeccah Hughes, Math Resource Teacher
Denton Elementary, Denton, Maryland, USA
After just one attempt at solving a Rush Hour Puzzle, I was hooked! I was fortunate enough to come across the ThinkFun products at a National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) conference in Richmond, Virginia, and from the moment I began playing could hardly wait to try it with my kids! I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when the games arrived at our school!
My first experience with the games in a group setting was at my daughter's 3rd birthday party. Adults and kids alike were talking about how they were solving the game puzzles and the kids were even helping the adults see alternate ways to solve problems! Even my 3 year old enjoyed the games (in her own way that is!) I knew after such a positive experience with friends and family I just had to get the games out in the schools.
Denton Elementary School is located in Denton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Our school serves Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade and has enrolled nearly 550 students. As a Math Resource Teacher at the school, I was pleased to bring the ThinkFun Games to our students and was immediately impressed with the opportunities for problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and communication that just playing the games brought about. I can't tell you how many "I can't do its" I've heard when it comes to problem-solving, but when it comes to the ThinkFun Games I can definitely tell you they turn to "I did it!'s"
During the first week of December I brought together our school's first after-school Math Game Club. This six-week session allows 24 students in grades 3rd through 5th to explore and experience the six games of Cover Your Tracks, Rush Hour, Brick by Brick, Square by Square, Hot Spot and Tip Over. The club (to be named by student selection at the end of session 1) meets weekly for an hour and a half and after brief discussion of the problem solving strategies and social skills we will work on each week, the students rotate through the game stations. In these first few weeks of the club we have focused on "Persevere" and "Collaborate." The students' reactions the first time I told them that our problem-solving strategy was to persevere was priceless. We never did that one in class! was the comment that to this day sticks in my head. We traditionally teach the kids to draw a picture, make a model, build a table, etc., but with the ThinkFun games the students have learned strategies that they can apply to nearly all situations in life.
Our first session will end at the end of January. It is my goal that students from this session will become "Game Club Ambassadors" to lead and teach the next session. ! The games' effectiveness and enthusiasm is contagious! Our second session invitation list is already full!
As we begin every club session, I leave you with one thought... Let the games begin!