Category Archives: ThinkFun Games

Easter PSA: Save chocolate bunnies, buy toys instead!

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Mattel’s clever “Save the Bunny” campaign this month features celebrities sharing the plight of the dwindling chocolate bunny population.  These earnest spokespeople urge the public to protect this endangered species by filling their Easter baskets with TOYS instead!

Still stocking up your Easter baskets for the weekend? Consider adding some quality “brain candy” in the form of games and puzzles for some sugar-free fun.  Do it for your loved ones – and, perhaps more importantly, for the chocolate bunnies.  As one celeb reminds us, “their little chocolate lives are in your hands!”

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Need some inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board with lot of creative ideas – both sugary and non – for a fun-filled holiday!

ThinkFun Mind Games Sharpen Math Skills in Istanbul Schools

We recently received the following message from our Turkish distributor about a pilot program using ThinkFun games in classrooms – along with a fantastic newspaper article:

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We are very happy and would like to share good news proudly with you. Since the beginning of our partnership as we have always told you our vision is to present high quality and educational games that can be played enthusiastically by both children and adults everywhere in Turkey.

We believe that these useful fun games develop children academically and socially. In this way we hope to change the way people see the games in Turkey. Therefore, we have always focused on the good hands on presentations and informed people of the skills that these games improve. We have been holding workshops on how to use these games to improve children’s thinking and problem solving skills. After many years of effort we achieved to attract the attention of a lot of children, parents and teachers.

Now one of the enthusiastic teachers has set off a pilot Project on using mind improving games in classrooms and this is figured in press:) As a team we have put a lot of time and energy while building the base of this Project. Since it covers the grades from 1 to 8 we have graded and grouped the games to have a harmonious flow throughout the grades. This Project appeared on the cover page of the newspaper called “Dünya International Herald Tribune” on March 19th.  We are sure that this Project will be the engine of other similar Projects.

The ThinkFun games that are being used are: Block By Block, Chocolate Fix, Hoppers, Math Dice, Math Dice Jr, River Crossing, Rush Hour Deluxe, Rush Hour Junior, Shape By Shape, S’Match, Solitaire Chess, Swish, Tipover, and Zingo 1,2,3

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Giant River Crossing Used in Military Training

Wow! This fantastic email shares ways our River Crossing game is helping young cadets in the UK improve team communication and build leadership skills – I can’t wait to see photos!

I am the School Staff Instructor (ex Regular Soldier) of the St. Bees School Combined Cadet Force.  This is a School Cadet Youth movement sponsored by the UK Ministry of Defense in which Cadets from ages 13 to 18 can experience military activities from the Tri-Services; Navy, Royal Air Force and Army.  Cadets are issued the same equipment and uniform as the UK Regular Forces and we have an armoury within the School which holds 30 Army assault weapons for training purposes and live firing on Army ranges,

 

I digress, this game was purchased by one of our American students and has been converted to a full scale version for Cadets to practice and improve team building and leadership skills by working as a team to solve several of the puzzles.  The puzzles are given to the Cadets with a military scenario (possibly with a rescue mission – swapping the dog for a piece of eqpt or ‘civilian’ but in practical Terms it is no different than the game version.

 

Our Contingent runs a Military Skills competition each year for twenty teams of 6 cadets from around our Brigade.  The Perilous Planks Command Task features each year as one of the ‘stands’ that are used to test the Cadet Teams marking them on Leadership, Team Work, Communication, and whether they can complete the several crossings in the time allocated.

 

The game has also proved as an effective ‘last minute’ backup quick option when we require to operatee a background activity to a main event.  Our full scale version works on one metre spaces between the posts and in our case the planks are real. Our Senior Cadets use the game initially to decide which crossings to use for the Full scale version.

 

So there you are, the version is being used to its fullest extent and maybe not quite in the way you might have considered.

 

With best regards,

 

S. R. Warrant Officer One (WO1)

St. Bees CCF

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!

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“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 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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

The 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:

Photo: A fabulous event to kick off Toy Fair week! No statues tonight but so proud to celebrate our 4 Toy of the Year nominees, congrats to this year's deserving winners!

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!

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!