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:
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
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.
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,” 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!”
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!
The origins of our beloved Zingo’s name are not difficult to trace – climb one branch up on the family tree, and you’ll find the classic game of Bingo! While Zingo is designed to support early reading and language skills, I was thrilled to know its educational roots run deep – did you know the age-old game of Bingo was originally created to teach children math?! Read on to learn more – and get tips on hosting your own learning-packed bingo experience!
How to Use Bingo as an Educational Game
After it first originated in the 1500s in Italy, bingo spread through Western Europe. When it finally reached Germany it was adopted by the nation for the purpose educating young children about how to learn mathematics. This proved to be very helpful to the children, who went on to grasp all of the basics with relative ease.
Well, this lesson is just as applicable today as it was back then. You can use bingo as an educational game to help your children learn more for school. The reason why it will succeed is because you get to repackage learning within a fun trivia game that will also come with prizes. Below we will go through all of the basics on how to arrange such an event.
What You Need to Do
Decide on the subject that you would like to cover: Pick perhaps a difficult area of education or something that would help your child’s friends.
Start choosing the questions: Go through your chosen subject – it could be History, Math, or anything else – and select 25 questions for the kids to answer. The reason why you select 25 is because they will be playing on a 5 x 5 grid.
Design your printable bingo cards: Use your computer to draw up a 5 x 5 grid numbered between 1 and 25 – these will be the bingo cards used for the game.
Assign questions to the numbers: Each of the numbers on the bingo cards should correspond directly to one of your 25 trivia questions. Be sure to make a list of the questions and their assigned numbers – 25 is too many to remember.
Get the balls ready: Go to the store and pick up at least 25 ping pong balls (extras can be used as spares). A good idea is to buy them in different colors to resemble the traditional balls. Now that you have your bingo balls you have to number them between and 1 and 25. All you need to do is draw on the numbers with a black permanent marker.
Find a large container: This will be used to house all of the balls for the game. The way it will work is that you pick out a ball at random and then ask the corresponding questions until the game is finished. The winner will be the kid with most correct answers.
Send out the invites: With all of the hard work out of the way you just need to send out the invites.
The Final Touches
Before we leave you, we are first going to impart some advice on creating a perfect bingo night. Make sure in advance that you have plenty of seats and chairs ready, not to mention daubers to mark off the answered questions. Also, your players will be very grateful for refreshments, so make sure you have plenty of juice boxes ready and healthy snacks for when they take a break. Lastly, make sure everyone has plenty of prizes to win because that will make the whole event more rewarding.
Follow these steps and to a fruitful and rewarding educational experience is guaranteed. Enjoy!
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!
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!
In between sessions, attendees had a chance to explore all kinds of fantastic hands-on play experiences…
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!
What better way to relax between talks than with Giant Jenga!
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.
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.
As I’ve shared in past posts, it turns out a creative brain can tweak these tiles to teach just about anything – from genetics to family member names!
This latest post, shared by Tammy G. of the Fumbling Thru Autism blog, shares some fantastic ideas (and a great how-to description for all you crafty folks!) for modifying the classic Zingo! game to expand game play and support learning!
In my last post, I wrote about how to make easy turn-taking games easier. Now Beth and I play turn-taking games for hours every day. It is so wonderful to work on interaction and language development and have fun at the same time.
When given a choice of games, Beth always chooses Zingo. There is something uniquely fun about sliding that dispenser to eject the game pieces, matching the pictures, and then throwing up our hands and yelling (well, quietly yelling) “Zingo!” when we are done filling our cards. During the game Beth readily talks. I ask, “What did you get?” and she almost always answers.
Farm & Vehicles Zingo!
Lately I don’t even need to ask, she is commenting on her pieces without prompting. I also expand her language based on the game pieces. “What does the dog say?”, “Where does the bird fly?”, and “Where do you put a hat?” are just a few examples of ways we expand language during play. After running out of ideas to expand Beth’s language using the Zingo game pieces, I realized it was time to expand Zingo itself.
Below are two ways I have expanded Zingo by making custom made Zingo game pieces. I wanted to keep our original Zingo game intact so that we could still play the game, so I bought a second Zingo game (Zingo 1-2-3 numbers version, which we will use later when she is counting) to attach pictures to the game pieces.
Clip Art on Zingo Game Pieces
I bought JPEG clip art files from an artist on Etsy. Using Power Point, I sized the clip art appropriately and added text under each picture, then I printed out game boards and smaller images for the Zingo game pieces. Next, I cut out and covered the game boards with clear Con-tact paper and cut out the smaller images and attached them to the Zingo game pieces (I used clear Con-tact paper to attach the paper to the game pieces, but Scotch tape should also work).
Here are two sets of games I made with links to the JPEG files and my Power Point Templates:
Summer & Brown Bear, Brown Bear Story
Below you can find Power Point Templates to create your own boards and Zingo game pieces:
Another method is to buy stickers and put them on the Zingo game pieces, which is a great option for adding your child’s favorite characters to the Zingo game.
Here is a game set using Dora and Pooh stickers
If you want to reuse your tiles, be aware that some self-adhesive stickers adhere strongly, so it will be a lot of work to remove the stickers. Also, it was difficult to find stickers that were the right size to cover the whole original image on the Zingo game pieces. Therefore, for most stickers sets, I cut out each sticker to the appropriate size and stuck it on white paper, then attached the mounted sticker to a Zingo game piece with clear Con-tact paper (alternatively you could use Scotch tape).
Another option is to print the images on self-adhesive computer labels and attach them to the Zingo game pieces, but they might be difficult to remove at a later time.
Want to DIY?! Tammy has generously shared JPEG files for the 4 game boards and game pieces with instructions in this post, get crafting!
I have shared several posts on the incredible William Kamkwamba, also known as the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and I’m thrilled to share the next chapter in his amazing story.
A young innovator from Malawi who taught himself to generate electricity by building a windmill from found materials and scrap parts, William embodies what it means to be a problem solver – resourceful, creative, and pioneering in his vision and drive.
On Sunday, a new documentary William and the Windmillwill have its world premiere at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. This film from director Ben Nabors details both his original story and his subsequent brush with fame (click here for more) – I can’t wait to see it!You can see the movie’s trailer below:
Few things grate me more than poor grammar – as I reflected in this post, my 6th grade English teacher spent countless hours making sure we went forth armed with the rules for proper comma usage, and her crusade for grammatical correctness lives on in me!
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?!”
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…
Welcome to the ThinkFun Booth!
Laser Maze, available in May!
I thought you said no outside visitors?! This brainy bird couldn’t resist playing WordARound during show set-up!
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?!
A familiar face! ThinkFun co-founder Bill Ritchie poses with his two toddler inventions: Roll & Play and, new for 2013, Hello Sunshine!
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!
The Hebert Brothers are the brainy duo who created WordARound, we’re addicted!
A visit from the inventors of UnHinged!
The Costers are the inventors of the iconic Zingo Zinger!
Steve Hayton, Turnstile inventor, visited ThinkFun to say hello!
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!