Solitaire Chess Teaches Students to Look Before They Leap!

Teaching eager young learners to slooooow down and think carefully before racing to a conclusion is a tricky task!  Helping students apply the brakes and think their way through a problem is a whole lot easier when you can present a challenge that naturally forces them to do so…much more effective than nagging reminders to “stop and think!”

ThinkFun’s new game Solitaire Chess does just this!  A single player logic puzzle based on the rules of chess, Solitaire Chess challenges players to use traditional chess moves to eliminate all but one piece in a given challenge.  The physical game features 60 challenges, and a newly released app has a whopping 400!  Try it out and you’ll see how easy it is to get hooked!

The notion that playing chess is good for you, building thinking skills through play, is certainly nothing new.  For years studies have explored how this highly strategic game improves players brain function, and schools all over the world integrate chess programs into their instruction to help build students’ thinking in new ways.  The beauty of Solitaire Chess is that it makes chess accessible to players who have never been introduced to the game.  The quick to learn game play lets players dive in at an appropriate level and build expertise and confidence as they go!

The idea that teachers can use of this new game in the classroom thrills me (are you surprised?!), which is why I was so excited to read a recent blog post by gifted specialist Tamara Fisher on the reaction her students had to this new game.  Tamara shares her experience using Solitaire Chess with her gifted students, and she provides excellent tips to help others use this game as a learning tool!  Here is an excerpt from her post, and the full story can be found here.

“What I’m finding is that Solitaire Chess is proving to be an excellent way to help these bright kids learn how to think something through before diving in. My gifted students are often so capable at challenges that they can typically dive in and figure it out as they go. But the nature of Solitaire Chess requires some pondering first in order to achieve a successful outcome. I don’t know that there’s a more fun way to help our brightest students learn to look before they leap!”

Tamara also shares some fabulous comments and insights from her students…  I love the way this game enables students to be reflective on their thinking process and appreciate the benefit that extra “think time” allows!  Here are some of my favorites:

“It hurts and works your brain, but it’s very fun and challenging. I liked that some puzzles took longer than other to solve. I love it!”

“A very fun and interesting game. It really makes you think about the outcome and figure it out in your head before you go ‘hands-on.'”

“This game is nothing like any other game I’ve ever played. It’s like swimming in the ocean; if you jump right in you’ll get eaten by a shark, but if you wait and think about how to avoid the shark you’re alive!” (love this!)

“I LOVE this game. It’s chess upgraded! It makes me look beyond what’s in front of me! This game takes patience and skill.”

I love the way this game enables students to be reflective on their thinking process and appreciate the benefit that extra “think time” allows!

Have you used Solitaire Chess or another great thinking game in the classroom?  How have you used games to encourage your students to think in new ways and practice new skills?  Please share your experience below!

Want more?  ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie shares more on how Solitaire Chess challenges build problem solving skills in his article “Building Thinking Skills Through Chess” featured on the United States Chess Federation’s website!

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