Category Archives: ThinkFun Games

Hello Sunshine Shines in Speech Therapy!

The following post is shared by expert Speech Therapist Sherry Artemenko of Play On Words.  Sherry recently awarded Hello Sunshine! the Play Advances Language (PAL) Award in recognition of its uses as a language learning tool!

 Hello Sunshine Shines in Speech Therapy!

“Hello Sunshine,” New PAL Award winner, Shines In Preschool Speech Therapy

Toddlers can be a bit of a challenge in speech therapy because you have to keep them engaged and motivated with great toys and activities while building their language. Sunshine was quite a hit with my little ones as they warmed right up to her and delighted in hiding and finding the furry bit of radiance. 2 year-olds were following directions and learning prepositions, while 3 year-olds decided to play teacher and send me on the hunt. Use Sunshine to teach wh-questions, pronouns,  prepositions and vocabulary as you go on your search around the house.

 Hello Sunshine Shines in Speech Therapy!

Hello Sunshine was recently honored with a Play Advances Language (PAL) Award!

Here is my full review:

Say hello to Sunshine, who joins ThinkFun’s first toddler game, “Roll & Play” which was popular with toddlers and their moms last year. I am more frequently asked for toy suggestions by parents of toddlers than any other age, which might explain why these simple starter games provide more structure for parents and caregivers who appreciate some guidance on where to begin their play.

Hide the plush Sunshine according to picture cards depicting positions such as in a box, next to a chair or on top of your head! Ask your toddler, “Were is Sunshine, can you find her?” The game’s directions offer wonderful language learning tips for toddlers such as modeling questions, greetings, and positional words within the context of a child’s play.

Kids loved playing this game of hide and seek with their furry Sunshine. When my little friend spotted her “on top of a pillow,” he squealed with delight, grabbed her, and leaned in for a squeeze! Three year-olds upped the fun by trading places with me and being the “hider.” I had to follow directions, “Now me hide it, close your eyes” Playing just once, isn’t enough, “”I wanna hide it again!”

Playing Mind Games!

Last summer, ThinkFun donated a shipment of great games to an exciting new after-school enrichment program in Wellington, FL. The “Mind Games” program launched in September, and founder Jenny Levin recently wrote to share an update and some great photos of learners at play!

 

Mind Games is a fun and challenging way for students to increase academic achievement while working cooperatively towards common goals. Our mission is to help students improve academic achievement by expanding their cognitive abilities and to assist them in developing important life skills that will lead to a lifetime of successes.

Mind Games will also create an environment that will help improve students’ self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence as well as provide a setting to develop interpersonal skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork and leadership.

ThinkFun games play a big role in the Mind Games curriculum. The single player games allow the students the opportunity to compete against themselves, set goals and reach new levels of play. Games such as Rush Hour, Rush Hour Jr., Hot Spot and Tilt are some of our favorites! Thank you to ThinkFun to helping make Mind Games a huge success!

 


 

TEDActive: My Week at Brain Camp

What do you get when you stir together 700+ brilliant minds from 50+ different countries for a week in the desert? You get the amazing brain gumbo that is TEDActive!

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While I thought nothing could top the 2011 Late Night Game Suite experience… only to have the experience exceeded in 2012 with Giant Swish and a wildly creative Game Creation Challenge – this year’s conference managed to be the best by far!

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This year’s many talks flung our brains in just as many different directions – from a former street performing mime to a guerilla gardener in South Central LA – to a giant squid hunter to Shane Koyczan’s moving talk on bullying that brought the room to tears and to their feet – the content was nothing short of awesome, my mind is still buzzing!

In between sessions, attendees had a chance to explore all kinds of fantastic hands-on play experiences…

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Giant Rush Hour soaked up some desert sun!

Artist Kiel Johnson created some incredible giant cacti for the DIY cardboard mini golf course on the putting green!

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What better way to relax between talks than with Giant Jenga!

 TEDActive: My Week at Brain Camp

It’s a bit tough to take in all that’s going on in this photo below – but it’s my absolute favorite – look closely and you’ll see it’s a picture of a camera taking another picture of Giant Rush Hour WITH an iPad featuring the Rush Hour app – holy puzzle mania!

My geeky little heart almost skipped a beat.

 TEDActive: My Week at Brain Camp

Read more about all the fun and learning at TEDActive in this fantastic TED blog post!  For more fun photos from ThinkFun at TEDActive, visit our Facebook Album.

Toy Fair 2013: Behind the curtain…

Each year when I tell friends – especially those with kids – that I’m headed to Toy Fair, the first response is generally, “That sounds AWESOME, how do I get in?!”

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Unfortunately for my game-loving buddies, this event is not open to the public. Learning the doors are locked tends to conjure up visions of top-secret toy meetings, tinkering elves, a massive toy workshop inside the Javits Center… the imagination can run wild!

I hope I’m not spoiling the magic by sharing the experience inside the ThinkFun booth…

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Welcome to the ThinkFun Booth!

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Laser Maze, available in May!

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I thought you said no outside visitors?! This brainy bird couldn’t resist playing WordARound during show set-up!

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The ThinkFun team, ready to roll!

Sadly no game-making elves were spotted this year, but we were thrilled to visit with some amazing  inventors who have created many of our great games… kind of the same thing right?!

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A familiar face! ThinkFun co-founder Bill Ritchie poses with his two toddler inventions: Roll & Play and, new for 2013, Hello Sunshine!

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Luke Hooper, one of the inventors of Laser Khet, stopped by to pose with the amazing new game he created with ThinkFun – Laser Maze features a REAL (safe) laser, we can’t wait for it to arrive in May!

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The Hebert Brothers are the brainy duo who created WordARound, we’re addicted!

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A visit from the inventors of UnHinged!

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The Costers are the inventors of the iconic Zingo Zinger!

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Steve Hayton, Turnstile inventor, visited ThinkFun to say hello!

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Yackety Smack inventor Roberto Fraga stopped by to play!

Despite auspicious beginnings (ahem, Snowstorm Nemo, I mean YOU!), 2013 Toy Fair was a fantastic show – The Toy of the Year Awards were a wonderful celebration to begin the festivities, and our 5 new games were so well-received – and we are looking forward to a terrific year!

Brain Buzzing? Must be time for TED!

I feel like a kid packing for summer camp!

My suitcase filled with games and toys may be to blame.

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I am so excited to take my toys and head to Palm Springs this weekend for my third TEDActive Experience! For those unfamiliar, this incredible conference happens concurrently with the TED Conference in Long Beach, with 700 individuals coming together to watch the TED Talks via live simulcast and then engage in meaningful experiences, conversation, and activation around these ideas worth spreading!

I have been so fortunate to be part of this event for the last 2 years (see my recaps from 2011 Game Suite and 2012’s Giant Swish and Game Creation Challenge workshop!), and am thrilled to return to help make this year’s conference the most PLAYFUL one yet!

TED Active game on Brain Buzzing? Must be time for TED!

In partnership with the amazing TEDActive team, we’ve curated some amazingly fun game experiences for conference participants, from mega Rush Hour to a Caine’s Arcade-inspired cardboard creation.  I can’t wait to share all the fun next week will bring – stay tuned!

 

Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year Awards

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Cocktail dress + snow boots, good thing NY Fashion Week is over!

After a monster pre-Toy Fair snow storm (fittingly named Nemo!) threatened to derail months of careful planning, the ThinkFun team braved the elements, the train gods smiled upon the DC-NY route, and we successfully made our way to New York for the show… and what a show it was!

Things kicked off on Saturday night with the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards celebration at The Plaza hotel!  While probably not a ThinkFun-worthy puzzle, my first challenge of the show was a race against time to get ready for the TOTY Awards en route to the city, meaning a Superwoman-style change into a cocktail dress on board the Acela train… not my finest hour but it got the job done!

1TOTY 2013 194x109px Toy Fair 2013: Toy of the Year AwardsThe event was a wonderful celebration of some truly remarkable products – and we were thrilled to have three of our games (Roll & Play, Zingo Sight Words, and Swish) nominated for a record FOUR awards!

While we didn’t leave with any statues, it truly is an honor just to be nominated, and we were thrilled to have our games recognized in great company among this year’s winning games and toys.  Here are some highlights from the evening:

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Zingo! Sight Words and Roll & Play pose with their fellow nominees for Educational Toy of the Year!

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The ThinkFun team awaits the start of the show!

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Sweet! Hosts passed around popcorn and cotton candy to up the excitement

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ThinkFun CEO Andrea Barthello presents a TOTY Award

But wait! We didn’t leave entirely empty-handed! ThinkFun was recognized with a Play Connects Award for our nomination of The National Lekotek Center, a  non-profit that supports children with special needs, for a $10,000 grant! We are thrilled to support the wonderful work they do, and this award represents much-needed funding that will go to a very worthy cause.

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Andrea Barthello accepts the Play Connects Award

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The Play Connects Award – fittingly constructed of Tinker Toys!

The TOTY Awards were a fabulous way to kick off a great show – a big congrats to this year’s deserving winners!

Hello Sunshine!

Guess whose shining face just showed up at ThinkFun HQ?

Meet Sunny!

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Isn’t this the cutest little face you’ve ever seen!?

Following the huge success of last year’s Roll & Play, the first-ever game for toddlers, Hello Sunshine joins this innovative early learning line – we couldn’t be happier to welcome Sunny to the ThinkFun family!

Hello Sunshine is a hide and seek game, a play pattern young children love and are familiar with, and game play is enhanced by the addition of positional words (terms like “on,” “under,” “inside”) which are reinforced through repetition and activity.  After extensive testing (which meant lots of very cute, very curious toddlers set loose in our offices), the game play was carefully designed to suit the developmental needs and learning goals of children age 18 months to 3 years – they had a blast!

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Perfectly soft and sized for hugs!

While Hello Sunshine play is cleverly-designed to promote thinking skills, family bonding, and social interaction for toddlers, the real appeal of Sunny, in my expert opinion and terminology, is that s/he is just so stinkin’ CUTE!  Our Design team worked very hard to get Sunny’s face just right, with careful attention to eyebrows and smile angles, and the results just make you go, “awwwwww!”

Here’s a quick how-to-play video, I can’t wait to introduce Hello Sunshine to the little ones in my life!

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Introducing… The Asperkids Collection!

I am THRILLED to share the new Asperkids Collection, an exciting partnership between ThinkFun and Asperkids!  Asperkids creator Jennifer O’Toole has curated a collection of games that support universal education skills for learners of all abilities, and below she shares a post on this initiative.  Learn more about Jennifer and her incredible work with AsperKids on her website, FacebookPinterest, and Twitter!

AsperKids ThinkFun image Introducing... The Asperkids Collection!

At Asperkids, we believe that learning is the business of everyone, every day – and that a, b, c’s and 1, 2, 3′s are just the tip of the iceberg. Real success in real life – friendships, romance, careers – requires persistence, patience, patience, and communication. And there’s no better way to practice all of those skills than PLAY. As Mister Roger’s said, “Play is serious work.” That’s why we are SO proud to introduce THE ASPERKIDS COLLECTION BY THINKFUN – our favorite games for sharpening skills OFFERED SO THAT SOME OF THE PROCEEDS BENEFIT OUR WORK on behalf of Asperkids everywhere.

By paying particularly close attention to the the distinct needs of different minds, we’ve assembled a collection of strategies, philosophies and insights which increase curiosity, wonder and engagement – improving the way ALL children (gifted, twice exceptional, sensory, ADD, typical, etc) LEARN HOW TO LEARN.

For example… you can teach a young Asperkid to practice overcoming mind blindness (the idea that our perspectives aren’t the automatically same) with S’match – a game aimed at children as young as four! Practice using the phrase, “Make me see what you’re seeing.” Help the child explain why they’ve made a “s’match” (or why they haven’t) using as many descriptors (colors, shapes, quantity) as possible….even an older Aspie may find that more challenging than you’d expect. Why? To us Aspies, our thoughts seem “transparent,” or obvious to everyone else. We have to LEARN THE SKILL of communicating what we presume, understand and believe in what feels (to us) like overly stated terms.

That may start by learning to clearly articulate, “I have a “s’match” because I uncovered two red cards, and the category I needed to match was color. If the category had been number or shape, I wouldn’t have made a s’match because these cards have different shapes (one has circles and the other has a triangle) and quantities (two versus one).” Take that to the level of a teen and it become explaining their thoughts about what happened at a party – or to an adult who can successfully communicate with his or her spouse.

“Make me see what you see.” That’s your line. Then repeat it back, “So, you see a…..” If what you’ve heard and what your kiddo meant don’t “S’match,” guide your Asperkid as she fills in any holes or miscommunications.

You see? In our collection, there’s logic building and visual spatial skills, collaboration and problem solving…not to mention LOTS OF FUN. So delight your Asperkid – and empower others everywhere by making your purchases through our site. We’ll all be so very glad you have.

(For more great ideas on how to use ThinkFun Games read my past blog, “Perspective from a Plastic Ice Cream Truck“.)

Toy Fair or Bust!

With a verrrrrry ominous weather forecast looming, We at ThinkFun prepare to set out for Toy Fair in New York this weekend!  Several members of our team beat the storm and are setting up the booth today and tomorrow, while the rest of us hold our breath and hope that flights and trains make it out on time tomorrow!

 Toy Fair or Bust!

When I taught 3rd grade, the reigning expert opinion was that sleeping in inside-out pj’s was the surefire way to guarantee a snow day, so I’m hoping that wearing mine properly will have the adverse effect.  Here’s hoping the snow allows tomorrow’s train to get me there in time for the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards celebration, where the winners will be announced!  With 4 nominations, we are hoping this is the year for a ThinkFun win!

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A photo from the 2012 (snow-free) TOTY Awards

My packing list has grown considerably over the years!  In addition to snow boots, check out the super sweet swag I’m bringing along!  The only thing missing is a ThinkFun-themed ball gown for the TOTY red carpet…

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Hope my ThinkFun Converse have good traction on the snow and ice!

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Snazzy warm ThinkFun scarf to ward off the snowy cold

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Gotta stay warm and caffeinated!

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Umbrella ready, fingers crossed it turns to rain!

 

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There's a stowaway in my ThinkFun lunch box! A little preview of one of our new 2013 games...

Will you be attending the show?  Please stop by Booth #2251 and say hello!

Safe Travels… and think melty thoughts!