Extreme Makeover… ThinkFun Edition!

Two ThinkFun Favorites Get “Gnu” Updates Based on Player Feedback!

Over the years we’ve gotten LOADS of fabulous suggestions from parents, teachers, and kids for ways to improve our Zingo! and What’s GNU? games, and we’ve listened! Last year, we went through massive amounts of player feedback, including online reviews, customer emails, and letters from kids, and we found several recurring themes! To share a few:

“Make Zingo! tiles double-sided!”

“Loading the tiles back into the Zinger is a pain”

“What’s GNU? is too tough for the youngest players”
“There is often no way to make a word in What’s GNU?”
“What’s GNU? Cards scattered everywhere make it way too overwhelming for my 5 year old!”

Using these suggestions and more for guidance, the product development team explored all possible updates, and, having tested countless prototypes and ideas firsthand, I can confidently say that the refreshed versions of these two games are greatly improved as a result!

Updates include:
Zingo!

  • Double-sided tiles!
  • Zingo! Zinger now features easy reload slots that let players pop tiles back in as they play! No more tiles littering the floor means fewer missing pieces… and makes clean up a snap!
  • New tile and image distribution means a winner every time!
  • Instructions feature new options for game play!
  • 2-sided cards offer 2 distinct levels of play. For beginners, the green side is less competitive. If all tiles are used, every player will fill his/her board. The image distribution on the red cards brings a much more competitive element to game play, and players must be quick to call for tiles to have a shot at victory!

Zingo 7700 HiResSpill 300x300 Extreme Makeover… ThinkFun Edition!

What’s GNU?

  • Now features 2 levels of play! For beginning readers, green cards feature 2 printed letters, meaning they must only fill one missing sound to complete a word. Advanced players can flip to the red side and play with 1 printed letter.
  • New letter distribution on the Word Cards and tiles for maximum word building opportunities!
  • New rules for younger players make the game less overwhelming, and instructions offer loads of play variations!
  • Red vowels highlight spelling patterns and help young readers learn word-building conventions
  • More word learning opportunities than ever with a new online 3-Letter dictionary (see the link below)!

*See some of these “GNU” updates for yourself in our online What’s GNU? game!*

What Gnu cards 300x300 Extreme Makeover… ThinkFun Edition!

"Gnu" word cards and red vowels help early readers build words and learn spelling patterns

For these and all products, making sure we get things exactly right before launching them is about the truth of the game play itself. Obviously packaging, graphics, color scheme, etc. are vital to a product’s success, but the most stunning box in the world means nothing if the game inside doesn’t inspire players to stretch their thinking and grow as they play! It is this commitment to ensuring every game is not only as fun as possible, but also genuinely fosters the development of critical thinking and social skills, that drives our rigorous testing process conducted “in the field” (aka classroom!) by yours truly!

What makes me so proud of the games we produce is the incredible amount of research and testing that go into each product, particularly games targeted at the very youngest players. As you can see, feedback from our teacher partners and their students drives the development (and re-development) of everything we do, so your ideas and comments are ALWAYS welcome – please feel free to email me anytime!

And finally… a HUGE thank you to the many teachers and parents who tested these new games!

7 thoughts on “Extreme Makeover… ThinkFun Edition!

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  6. Charlotte Post author

    Great idea Barbara!

    Great minds must think alike – last summer we actually experimented with this very idea, but with a slight twist! We tried creating a customizable online template that would let teachers and parents input images and text to create their own tiles, then print them out on a specific size of sticky labels. We thought that rather than deciding on a set of next-level vocab ourselves, this customizable version would work well for vocabulary practice, spelling words, themed units, etc. The only problem was that adding a layer of sticker to the tiles often made the Zinger jam, so back to the drawing board :)

    Please keep ideas like this coming, this is great!

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