Tag Archives: apps

A Love of Game Play Runs in the Family…

I had a very informative email exchange with a customer recently who shared great insight on what he looks for in a game and the ways he sees his daughter’s thinking skills improving through play.  It’s clear Marcel has passed on a love of brain games to his little girl, and I’m pleased to share this post in hopes it inspires others to be more mindful about the games and toys we provide our little learners!


Hi Charlotte,

I often check your blog, and I really enjoy what you describe there. My 5 year old daughter likes to play several of the ThinkFun games!

The big secret for us is variety. We have several ThinkFun games (for both my daughter and myself, as I like logic games a lot), but also lots of games from other companies Also, we have different tangram games (we have Shape by Shape and the egg-shape tangram from ThinkFun), and my daughter likes to play that as well.

Another thing that I personally find important is to only buy good games and toys for her. In Seattle, we have a store called Math-n-Stuff that sells lots of educational toys. When we need a new toy, I’d rather spend a little bit more money to get a toy that helps my daughter instead of some toy that she gets bored with after a day. Also, I spend quite a lot of time reading various blogs (including yours) to find out about good educational games.

What I really like about most of these games is how they start simple and slowly add more complexity. Initially, my daughter gets very excited when she can easily do it and gains confidence. But slowly things get harder, and she needs to start thinking how to solve the problems. Slowly, with some help from us, she is making progress with most of the games. However, after she has played the game for a while, she starts to really understand how it works, and is than able to finish the hardest levels in most of the games.

It normally takes her about 3-4 months to get there, but when she gets it, we can take out the game at any time, pick any level, and she is able to do it without any help from us. This is the part I really like about these games – that they gradually help the kids in doing more and more difficult problems, and when they get it, they can actually do most of the puzzles.

Chocolate Fix for iPad

Another thing I just noticed is that you released Chocolate Fix for the iPad. Chocolate Fix is too hard for my daughter (5 years is a little bit young for that), but I enjoy the game myself. It is a great game to play.

One thing I like about the ThinkFun iPad games is that they allow you to undo your steps. For instance, I was playing Solitaire Chess (I have both the iPad and the board game), and I like the iPad version as it allows me to undo the last few steps. With the board version, it is much harder to remember what the last steps were, and often I have to start from the beginning as I forgot what my last few steps were. So definitely keep doing the iPad games!

Last but not least, please keep writing your blog. I think it is very informative, and I always get a big smile on my face when I read how the ThinkFun games make kids excited about logic and math concepts. When these concepts are presented in the normal way (i.e. drilling), kids tend to get bored very quickly, but when you add the game concept to it, they suddenly get super-excited and are learning lots of skills without even realizing it.

Take care, Marcel


What qualities do YOU look for when choosing games for your kids – or for yourself?!

Get your Chocolate Fix to go!

At long last – I’m THRILLED to see my all-time favorite game available as an app! After months of fine-tuning, we’re finally ready to share our Chocolate Fix app with the world!

There’s a free version with 30 puzzles to spark your appetite, and the full version features 400 ALL NEW puzzles which – if you’re anything like me – will keep you completely immersed for hours at a time!  This is coming with me on my flight out to the TEDActive Conference next week :)

Here’s the press release announcing this exciting launch – I hope you’ll give the app a try and let me know what you think!  Please share any comments or feedback below.

ThinkFun’s Chocolate Fix App Available Now on iTunes
Serious Brain Candy that’s Addictively Fun to Play

ThinkFun® Inc., the leading developer of addictively fun brain games that stretch and sharpen your mind, is pleased to announce that its award-winning Chocolate Fix game is now available in the Apple App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

The Chocolate Fix app expands on the innovative board game of the same name, offering 400 new challenges and four levels of play from Easy to Expert. A charming and clever logic game set in a Chocolate Shop, Chocolate Fix is a fun and satisfying way for players of all ages to sharpen their logical deduction skills.

* Quick to Learn *

Similar to Sudoku, Chocolate Fix requires you to examine and combine clues carefully to unlock the solution and move on to the next challenge. Players must use the clues provided, including shapes, colors, and orientation, to get each chocolate in the correct place in the chocolate box. Every perfect solution moves the player forward to the next challenge.

* A Sweet Deductive Reasoning Game – Great for All Ages! *

Don’t be fooled by the colorful candy graphics – this seemingly sweet puzzle can become diabolically tricky! Challenges range from Easy to Expert, so players of all ages and abilities – kids to adults – begin at an appropriate level and build confidence as they work their way up.

* A New Way to Play at Home and On-The-Go *

“For years, Chocolate Fix fans have come to us requesting ‘more please!’” said Bill Ritchie, co-founder and CEO of ThinkFun. “With this new app, we’re thrilled to expand the Chocolate Fix play experience. For those who love the feel of hands-on play, the 400 new challenges can be played with the board game. For those looking for a brain workout on the go, it’s all there on your mobile device!”

Chocolate Fix joins ThinkFun’s current line of successful mobile apps – including their classic app Rush Hour and last year’s Solitaire Chess. Each of these apps is designed to push your brain in different ways and continually sharpen your thinking.

400 Challenges from Easy to Expert!

* Availability *

Chocolate Fix is available in a free version, with 30 challenges, from Easy to Expert. The full Chocolate Fix app contains 400 challenges from Easy to Expert and is available for $2.99 from the App Store. The app can be downloaded by clicking here or going to http://www.itunes.com/appstore.

The Chocolate Fix board game is currently available from major retailers for $19.99.

About ThinkFun

ThinkFun is the world’s leader in addictively fun games that challenge your mind and inspire creative thinking. Over 25 years ago, ThinkFun was founded with a dream to change the world through play. It continues to expand on that dream every day with games, mobile apps and global education programs. To learn more about ThinkFun, go to http://www.thinkfun.com.

ThinkFun, the ThinkFun logo, and Chocolate Fix are trademarks or registered trademarks of ThinkFun Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2012 ThinkFun, Inc. All rights reserved.

Need a Brain Snack? Try the Solitaire Chess App!

My name is Charlotte, and I am a Solitaire Chess addict.

I never touched a chess board growing up, and as an adult I felt I’d ever have a shot at learning the game. When ThinkFun first developed the Solitaire Chess game last year, I nervously waited to be found out as a non-chess player and was sure the game wouldn’t be for me.  How wrong I was.

Solitaire Chess by ThinkFun

Solitaire Chess by ThinkFun

The beauty of Solitaire Chess is that it teaches even the most chess-phobic newbie the basic movement rules of classic chess, easing you into game play with early challenges that reinforce chess rules.  Since it’s a single-player challenge in which you eliminate pieces with capture moves, you play at your own pace and learn as you go… no pressure.

Solitaire Chess was a nice addition to my life, and I was happy to pick up a challenge or two and play during downtime… then everything changed.  In January, we released the Solitaire Chess app featuring 400 BRAND NEW challenges, and I was hooked.

Solitaire Chess ipad

In March I spent an entire red eye flight home Palm Springs working my way through the 100 “mediums.”  I deplaned victorious (albeit EXTREMELY red-eyed!), and while I’ve not spent another multi-hour stretch of time playing, almost daily I find myself opening the app for a quick brain snack, completing a challenge or 2 at a time.  A quick puzzle is a great way to polish up by brain while standing in line, on the subway, or just giving my eyeballs a break from the computer.  I feel sharper, and the sweet victory music is a nice confidence boost :)

Just last week, ThinkFun released Solitaire Chess for Android – I’m thrilled that having this game on both iOS and Droid opens up the play experience for loads more eager players!

Interestingly, in our outreach to the chess community, we’ve connected with the folks at the US Chess Federation who found the more advanced puzzles incredibly challenging!  Feeling that I could train myself to take on puzzles that top-level chess masters are struggling with is pretty empowering… although I may need another cross-county flight to bust through the Expert level!

Is Your Child an iPad Addict?!

Yesterday, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue shared this very funny, and very insightful post on the captivating hold his iPad has over his 6 year old son:

A Parent’s Struggle With a Child’s iPad Addiction

I think my 6-year-old is addicted to the iPad.

He asks for it constantly. He wants to use it in the car. He wants to use it at every unscheduled moment at home. He brings it to the dinner table.

When I tell him it’s time to shut off the iPad and head up to bed, or put his shoes on, or head out to the bus, he doesn’t hear me the first three times I ask. Sometimes, he gets bizarrely upset when I say I have to take it away now — out-of-character upset. That’s what makes me think he’s addicted.

And trust me — having read The New York Times series on the physiological effects of electronics on young minds, I’m plenty worried.

Now, before you begin sending the volleys of “bad parent” e-mails, let me reassure you: I’ve described what my son wants, not what he gets. We do have policies. The rule for my three kids is: no electronics on school days except what you actually need for schoolwork. No gadgets at mealtime or bedtime. Gadgets are O.K. when you’re home sick or in the car for long trips.

My older two kids manage to stick with those rules (mostly). My youngest, though, asks for that darned iPad constantly.

And I’ll be straight with you: I generally enforce the rule, but sometimes it’s tough. Because, let’s face it: When he’s on the iPad, he’s happy. He’s quiet. He’s engaged. And in this family, the two older siblings form a tween bloc (my oldest are 13 and almost 12), and then there’s a big age gap. So it can be hard to find activities, games or conversations that involve all three simultaneously.

The iPad is a magic electronic babysitter that creates instant peace in the household. If you told me you’d never, even occasionally, be tempted to hand it over, I’d say I doubt you.

What makes my feelings on this subject even more complicated is that, in general, my 6-year-old isn’t playing mindless video games. He’s not allowed to play shoot-‘em-ups or violent games at all. Instead, he’s encouraged to play creative apps — and most of the time, he does.

He spends hours, for example, playing with Puppet Pals, an amazing free app that lets you create animated cartoons. You choose a backdrop — say, the Wild West, or a pirate ship. Then you drag cutout characters around with your fingers; you can move them left, right, up, down, or forward and backward (they get smaller when you move them farther away). You provide the dialogue yourself. The app records everything you do, both audio and character motions. Later, you can play back the whole thing for your proud papa. Yes, my 6-year-old is creating his own animated shorts.

He also loves EasyBeats, a music app where you lay down one instrument track at a time, as the four-measure pattern loops over and over. He builds complex rhythms, one layer at a time.

Come on, how can apps like that be bad for a kid? Is it really that much different from playing with paper cutouts? Or blocks? Or a toy drum set?

When he does play games, he favors thinking games like Cut the Rope (a clever physics-based puzzle game) or Rush Hour (strategy puzzles). Heck, even Angry Birds involves some thinking. You have to plan ahead and calculate and use resources wisely.

Rush Hour iPad app

In the old days, we used to tut-tut about how much TV kids watched — but parents usually made an exception for educational shows like “Sesame Street” and “Between the Lions.” How is this any different? Shouldn’t we make exceptions for creative and problem-solving apps?

In other words, I’m doing a lot of thinking lately. Is a gadget automatically bad for our children just because it’s electronic? What if it’s fostering a love of music, an affinity for theater and expertise in strategy and problem-solving? Is it a bad thing for a kid to be so much in love with mental exercises? Am I really being a good parent by yanking THAT away?

For now, I’m trying to live by the mantra, “Moderation in all things.” As long as iPad use is part of a balanced diet of more physical play and non-electronic activities, I think my little guy will probably be O.K.

Weigh in!  Do you give your child access to your smart phone/iPad?  Are there particular apps that you’ve found to be particularly engaging/effective as learning tools?