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“I’m gonna roll them dice…”

Last month marked the 10th Annual Arlington County ThinkFun Math Dice Tournament… and while these 5th graders wowed the crowd with their impressive mental math skills, the team spirit performances got equal billing as stars of the show!

You may recall stellar performances in years past, like last year’s Math Dice-themed version of “Proud Mary“ or this 2010 rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and this year’s competitors kept up the tradition by raising the performance bar ever higher.

The team from the  Arlington Traditional School, otherwise known as the ATS 00Dicers, showed off  impressive skills with their adaptation of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” song.  Here are the Dicers performing an encore of “Dice Shop,” with lyrics below – enjoy!

Want to sing along? Here are the lyrics!

ATS Math Dice Song DICE SHOP Lyrics page 001 791x1024 Im gonna roll them dice...

Get FIRED UP for Laser Maze!

Laser 1004 HiRes ActionShot2 Get FIRED UP for Laser Maze!After months of anticipation, Laser Maze finally arrived last week – and the initial response has been incredible! A GeekDad writer summed the excitement up perfectly with this response to game’s arrival, “Oooh, lasers!”

Of all the game-lovers in my life to share this with, first on my list was my friend Billy. Not only is he generally brilliant (check him out in action on the TEDx stage!), but he also happens to be an aerospace engineer and expert in optics and aviation lighting… who could be more qualified to play with lasers?!

(Also – I owed him big time after sending the 36 Cube puzzle a few years ago and costing him a full sleepless night in finding the solution.) After receiving one of the very first samples this weekend, Billy and his 6 year old son dove right in. His report:

“Upon receiving an awesome gift of Laser Maze, we solved the toughest puzzles then did the obligatory double slit experiment. #opticspuzzlegames=heaven… [My son] and I investigated the beam divergence angle of the laser, as well as learned about transmission, translucence, and opacity. I’m pretty sure he will have a slightly different view of nature than many if his 6 year old counterparts…”

This last line made me laugh out loud – I have no doubt this little guy’s got quite the leg up with a dad like Billy. Unsurprisingly, having solved the hardest challenges, Billy wrote back hungry for “more diabolical challenges” …we’re on it!

Have you checked out Laser Maze? Here’s a quick how-to-play video to show you how it works:

TED Talk Friday: Hearing color, confronting bullying

For Friday’s TED Talk screening, we began with a great talk suggested by one of our designers. In his 2012 talk at TEDGlobal, color blind artist Neil Harbisson introduced the audience to an amazing device that allows him to HEAR color!

In his talk, “I listen to color,” Harbisson encouraged us all to be more like cyborgs, and we were left intrigued to “hear” how our own faces would sound.

We then watched my favorite talk from 2013 – spoken word poet Shane Koyczan’s “To this day,” for the bullied and beautiful.

As I shared in my post-conference review, this particular talk brought the TEDActive audience to tears – and to their feet. It generated some very powerful responses among our ThinkFun group too – from a discussion on cyber bullying to personal reflections on our own childhood to the impact that bullying has not only on the “bully” and the “bullied,” but to bystanders who feel powerless to intervene. Many parents also shared changes they’ve seen in their children’s school experience due to heightened awareness.

I’d love to hear your reactions to either of these talks in the comments below!

TED Talk Fridays kick off at ThinkFun: Education and Introverts

Coming off the heels of yet another incredible TEDActive experience, I wanted to find a way to bring some of the TED magic back to the office. Last month, I instituted TED Talk Fridays here at ThinkFun, and the response was fantastic!

ted logo TED Talk Fridays kick off at ThinkFun: Education and Introverts

The format is super simple and agenda-less – I wanted this to be an informal time to gather and get inspired by new ideas. The conversations that organically bubbled up in response to the talks were far more powerful than any prompt I could have planned.

We started off with – who else – the amazing Sir Ken Robinson and his epic 2006 talk on How Schools Kill Creativity. With over 16 million views, this seemed a safe place to begin, and it generated some fantastic discussion about our own school experiences and the directions we may have gone if the system allowed for more creative exploration.

Next up was Susan Cain, speaking in 2012 about the Power of Introverts.

Interested in watching along with us? As our TED Talk Fridays continue, I’ll post links to the 2 videos we watch and will look forward to you joining us virtually – please share your comments or any ideas these videos spark!

Meet the stars of the new Hello Sunshine video!

I am so excited to share the world premiere of our newest video for Hello Sunshine, starring some incredibly cute little toddlers and their mommies!

As you can imagine, we have an absolute blast filming this video with these playful kiddos – and I am thrilled with the final product – enjoy!

Many thanks to Jack, Charlotte, EJ, Penny and their playful mommies for making this fantastic new learning game come to life!

Fuel your day the ThinkFun way!

Apparently ThinkFun fans love their coffee as much as they love their games!

After I shared this photo on Facebook Monday morning, several folks chimed in right away to let us know they’d also love to start their day with a ThinkFun-fueled smile!  Always happy to support our caffeine-loving fans, I’ve set up a giveaway so you can win your very own mug – click here to enter! (starts midnight 5/14 - 5/16)

ThinkFun Mugs1 300x300 Fuel your day the ThinkFun way!

Monday mornings are a lot perkier since our fun new mugs arrived!

And on a related note, I’ve also started an Instagram account for ThinkFun, featuring more “inside our world” photos from around the office and events we attend. Please follow us at ThinkFunGames!

How do you wake your brain up in the morning? Does your secret weapon come in a mug or another form?!

Happy Inventor Month: Meet the brains behind WordARound!

May is National Inventors Month! (Incidentally, it also happens to be National Barbecue Month, so fire up the grill and celebrate!)

ThinkFun’s inventors are the creative brains that drive our new products, and we love any chance we get to celebrate them. To kick off the month, I’m thrilled to introduce two new additions to the ThinkFun Inventor club: The Herbert Brothers!

IMG 6416 225x300 Happy Inventor Month: Meet the brains behind WordARound!

This loveable duo behind the new card game WordARound has been creating clever, quirky – and simple – ways to have fun since they were little boys mixing it up in a family of five kids in Southeast Indiana.

In 2009, Dave and Joe Herbert’s passion for film-making took a life-changing turn when their shoestring production of a Super Bowl ad for a Doritos contest won them $1 million in prize money.   But the acclaim didn’t stop there.  The hilarious 30-second commercial “Free Doritos!” hit #1 on USA Today’s annual consumer ranking of Super Bowl ads, taking Madison Avenue by storm and leaving 51 “big-budget advertisers” in its wake.

Released in February 2013, WordARound is recent evidence of the Brothers’ knack for balancing the offbeat with universal appeal.   The game features words in a circle and players race to call them out.  It’s a quick study but surprisingly tough, fueling laughter, frenzied play, and accolades like “instantaneously fun,” “genius” layout and “streamlined elegance.”  And just like their famous ad, the acclaim doesn’t stop there.  Players build focus, reflexes and vocabulary – fitting perfectly with ThinkFun’s repertoire of addictively fun games that sharpen your mind!

 Happy Inventor Month: Meet the brains behind WordARound!

Want more inventors? In this post, I shared several photos of our inventors who stopped by to say hello at Toy Fair 2013, and here are the smiling faces of more inventors in 2012!

Childhood unplugged! Celebrate Screen-Free Week

 Childhood unplugged! Celebrate Screen Free Week

While I spent many pre-adolescent hours claiming otherwise, I now feel incredibly lucky to have grown up in an almost entirely screen-free home.  As I shared in this post on Mr. Rogers, I enjoyed a magical 30-minutes-a-day of PBS during my preschool years, but after that, our little black box stayed off through high school.

The lack of screens in my childhood is a bit ironic when you figure my father was one of the very first Computer Science PhDs – but fun computer time in the 80′s meant either a game of Pong or learning to program the Logo turtle to walk in a line – both thrilling, but certainly nowhere near the all-consuming appeal of today’s computer offerings for kids.

While there is certainly loads of fantastic digital content available to kids today and quality educational brain snacks served up on a screen, I strongly believe that time spent away from the glass is critical for healthy development.  I’ve blogged before about the beauty of allowing – and encouraging kids to be BORED – and the amazing things that can emerge when left to their own devices to create, innovate, and stretch to find new ways to entertain themselves.

SFW logo with 2013 date 0 Childhood unplugged! Celebrate Screen Free Week

I’m so thrilled to celebrate Screen-Free Week this week.  This annual national celebration encourages children, families, schools, and communities to turn off TV, video games, computers, and hand-held devices – and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, they play, read, daydream, explore nature, and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Check out this Pinterest board for loads of fun ideas for games and crafts you and your family can create together – and learn while you’re laughing!

7f46dd1e5564f32553f7198f6a1e8dcb Childhood unplugged! Celebrate Screen Free Week

Source: Childhood Beckons

Whether playing outdoors, writing the next great novel, or planning a family game night, there are loads of creative ways to make screen-free time enriching and fun for the whole family!  I would love to hear your creative ideas… Want to get involved? For a listing of Screen-Free Week activities in your community, click here!

I’d love to hear your ideas – how will your family celebrate?! (please post – then kiss your screen goodnight and go play!)

 

Giant Rush Hour featured in a new Museum of Play exhibit!

We are so excited to celebrate the grand opening of a new exhibit at the Strong National Museum of Play!  The permanent Game Time exhibit, which opened April 13th, features 4,200 square feet of interactive PLAY experiences for the whole family! 

Featured among the fantastic game experiences is ThinkFun’s Rush Hour – as you’ve never seen it before!

SMP GT 2098 Giant Rush Hour featured in a new Museum of Play exhibit!

I love the way this cleverly-designed exhibit encourages the whole family to engage in game play together – particularly wonderful with a game like Rush Hour that is typically played solo.

An exhibit designer at The Strong shared some additional photos of this installation before it opened. Rush Hour seems very comfortable in the limelight, we think she has never looked so lovely!

More on the Game Time exhibit from the Strong’s website:

Your turn! Move like a piece on a giant game board through three centuries of American games, puzzles, and public amusements at Game Time! an original permanent exhibit on the second floor of the National Museum of Play® at The Strong. Feast your eyes on oversized toy props, see rare historic treasures from The Strong’s game and puzzle collections, and jump right in for active hands-on family fun.

The Strong is located in Rochester, NY – if you live in the area or are planning a trip soon, I encourage you to check out the fun. Personally, I think a road trip is in order!

Rush Hour Featured in Scientific American

Scientific American Mind Magazine is dedicated to innovations in brain science. My geeky heart skipped a beat when I opened the new May/June issue… and saw Rush Hour! This iconic ThinkFun logic puzzle was featured in a piece on brain training games that have a proven effect on improving the way children’s brains work.

ScientificAmericanMIND Rush Hour Featured in Scientific American

This article on brain training games for kids describes several products and programs designed to enhance children’s thinking skills – on page 42, it features an image of Rush Hour and describes the work of our friend Sylvia Bunge at UC Berkeley, who used this game and others (including Chocolate Fix) to improve reasoning IQ of students in a low-income community in Oakland, CA

sam0513 75x100 Rush Hour Featured in Scientific American
We are thrilled to continue our work with the Bunge Lab to truly understand ways in which our games shape and improve brains – it is thrilling to be on the forefront of such innovation! This issue is available on newsstands nationwide.

A preview of the article is available here, and the entire issue can be downloaded for a fee.