I recently shared an article with the Savvy Auntie community on ways to involve the kiddos in your life in keeping those get-healthy new year’s resolutions. You can read the full article here, but one of the tips I shared was to help those resolving to keep their MINDS as healthy as their bodies in 2013.
With all the focus on getting fit and healthy, don’t forget to keep your mental muscles toned! Studies show games can improve memory and prevent dementia—do you really need more incentive to play?!
Game night doesn’t have to mean Monopoly every time… Expand your repertoire with classic strategy games like Mancala, Backgammon, or Go! Live far away? Become puzzle pen pals and exchange Sudoku puzzles or crosswords from your local newspapers. For older kids, launch an ongoing mobile game of Chess, Blokus, or Catan. You’ll stay connected and get a brain boost with each move—a win-win!
Do you make games part of your family bonding? Prefer to play solo? Finding new ways to incorporate brain play into your healthy routine has so many benefits, and I encourage you to get creative in involving loved ones for double the fun!
An aside – my first get-healthy resolution of the new year… switching to a stand-up desk! I’m 2 weeks in and, for lack of a better phrase, still standing!
I’d love to hear any healthy resolutions you’ve made for the new year – whether for body, brain, or both. Please share!
For the past several years, I have shared the fun of the annual Arlington County MathDice Tournament. This county-wide event brings together students who have been practicing and playing Thinkfun’s MathDice game for months in preparation, and the skill level, determination, and often off-the-wall wacky team spirit is always inspiring!
This year, ThinkFun decided to package the Tournament experience so teachers worldwide could easily recreate the fun and learning that competition brings! I am extremely proud of the MathDice Tournament Kit we’ve created, and I am thrilled to know this great learning game will help more students get excited about math!
I recently made a quick video explaining the basic MathDice game and sharing the contents of this new kit – you can check it out here!
For those in the education world, the new Common Core standards represent an important initiative in the pursuit of clarifying and improving the quality of education in the US. Read more about Common Core standards here.
Coming from an education background, I have always been committed to furthering ways in which ThinkFun games can integrate into and enrich classroom learning. Working with expert teachers and gifted specialists, I have begun the exciting work of mapping some of our great learning games to specific common core standards – both to help teachers select the most appropriate games for their learning goals, and also to help highlight the true academic value these thinking tools have!
This matrix represents exciting initial work, but we’ve got much more to do! Are you an educator who uses ThinkFun games with your students? I would love your help with this project – please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you are interested!
It has been a very festive week here at ThinkFun, capped off by the annual White Elephant Holiday Gift Exchange! While we ThinkFunners work in harmony for 364 days of the year, this annual gift swap is a day for stealing, scamming, and cheating – all in the festive holiday spirit! Check out photos and a play-by-play of this highly entertaining event here!
We ended our festivities as a cohesive group once more, snuggled up in our spiffy new Thinkfun scarves!
From the ThinkFun family to yours – I wish you all a very happy holiday season!
This email absolutely made my day! Shad, a retiree from Montana who shared in this post how she and her husband play (and fiercely compete in) Solitaire Chess, wrote to let me know the game has now spread to her son and daughter in-law! The mental image of this brainy family at play made me smile!
Shad's husband practices to maintain his competitive edge!
The funniest thing just happened. Our son and his wife are here and we showed them the Solitare Chess. Jessica is an electrical engineer and Todd is a PhD dissertation writer in Political Science. They were stuck on #41. Todd finally figured it out the way we do by thinking of how things can move and in what sequence makes things possible. Jessica got out her little laptop and wrote some code to figure it out. They came to their answers about the same time.
We really have had fun with that game! What a funny evening. We really enjoyed seeing how the two of them would manage.
Yesterday was a VERY exciting day for ThinkFun! I flew up to NY for the Toy Industry Association press conference to announce the nominees for the 2013 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards.
After being treated to a performance on the Bryant Park skating rink (by a professional, me on ice would not be a treat!), attendees gathered to hear the nominees revealed…
This year there were a record number of submissions (nearly 650!) for the 11 award categories… so you can imagine my delight to learn ThinkFun received a record FOUR nominations for Toy of the Year Awards!
After the nominees were announced (I refrained from inappropriate hooting and hollering!), I spent time checking out the competition, oogling the light-up Cinderella dress (so perfect for the TOTY Awards dinner!) and showing off my sub-par Nerf-catching skills
Hooray for Roll & Play! Celebrating the nomination with the wonderful Sherry Artemenko of www.playonwords.com
The best thing about the TOTY Awards is that they are decided to a large extent by YOU! Vote now by clicking the games listed above or visiting www.toyawards.organd you could win a fabulous prize pack! (Voting ends Jan. 13th.)
THANK YOU for voting and for spreading the word, fingers crossed this will be ThinkFun’s year to take home the statue(s) at the TOTY Awards… I am reserving my fiber-optic Cinderella dress just in case
As any teacher or parent of an emerging reader will tell you, there are certain key words that children must learn in order to become fluent readers. These words, called Sight Words, are words like “of” and “the” that appear frequently and are often not spelled phonetically. Children must learn to recognize and read these words by sight, as stopping to sound them out would slow reading speed down significantly and make it difficult to promote comprehension.
Sight words (photo courtesy of Toys Are Tools blog)
So how do we learn these words? For many, flashcards are an obvious choice since these are words learned through repetition that must be recognized at first sight… but how dull! As a kindergarten teacher, I had a massive Sight Word Wall where we posted words like these throughout the year to practice and to build familiarity, and many other creative exercises and ideas have been shared by teachers, therapists, and parents to make learning more fun (just go to Pinterest and search for the term!).
Because learning these Sight Words is such a fundamental piece of becoming a successful reader, I am beyond thrilled that ThinkFun came out with Zingo! Sight Words! This game uses the addictive fun of the Zingo! Zinger (I mean seriously addictive – have you ever tried to pry that thing away from a 5 year old?!) and modified game play to feature 26 critical Sight Words.
No more flashcards! Zingo Sight Words builds reading muscles through play!
These words were selected by teachers and language therapists in the US and Canada from the 220 words on the official Dolch Sight Words list as the most important words for young readers to practice.
But don’t take my word for it, Zingo! Sight Words was awarded the Play Advances Language (PAL) Award for supporting language development through play and chosen by the organization as a top 10 game for 2012! Read more in this press release.
Check out this amazing expert review of the game on the Toys Are Tools blog. I love this blogger’s photo (and the word she invented in the accompanying caption!) – learning in action!
See how fast this kid's hand is? He Zingo-cizes regularly. He started playing Zingo when he was two
Do you have a creative way of reinforcing or teaching sight words? I’d love to hear it!
UPDATE: Thanks to a fantastic fan response, ThinkFun is thrilled to report a record 308 games were ordered in the 48 hours this promotion ran. We are so pleased to send out 308 brand new games to the Toy Bank to help bring much-needed joy to families still suffering in New York and New Jersey.
In the wake of last week’s storm, our thoughts are with the families who have lost so much.
To bring some smiles to those who so desperately need them, ThinkFun is supporting the Toy Bank with a Buy One – Give One donation initiative – and we’d love your help!
Through midnight tomorrow (11/9), for every game purchased, we will donate a new game to support families affected by the hurricane.
We would love your help spreading the word about this win-win way to help others! Here’s a link to a Facebook post you’re welcome to share, and a tweetable blurb as well:
Buy 1 Give 1! For every game sold @ThinkFun will donate one to a family affected by Hurricane #Sandy – Shop now! http://ow.ly/f8Bva
This also happens to be an ideal time for early holiday shopping, as we’re offering an additional 25% off all online orders with code HOLIDAY2012
I hope you and your family are safe and warm in Sandy’s aftermath, many thanks for spreading the word and helping ThinkFun bring some joy to families in need!
Love a good brainteaser? UnHinged is one you’ll have trouble putting down… literally. When we first showed this new puzzle back at Toy Fair in February, I found myself chasing several reporters through the aisles when then puzzle grew legs and walked off with them!
There’s something about the rhythmic flip, fold, stack tactile feel of this game that just feels great in the hand.
A mechanical puzzle like UnHinged is all about ease of manipulation, and ThinkFun spends a lot of time making sure we get everything right, from weight, hinge placement, materials, and tolerances. We conduct extensive quality control testing, and I thought it’d be fun to share some photos of this puzzle being put through the ringer!
Haven’t experienced UnHinged yet? Here’s a great how-to-play video to see it in action!