Tag Archives: Chocolate Fix

Brain Fitness games keep older brains sharp!

I’m thrilled to share our new line of Brain Fitness games: Solitaire Chess, Rush Hour, and Chocolate Fix!

Brain Fitness Line 1024x341 Brain Fitness games keep older brains sharp!

These brain-boosting games are designed to strengthen mental muscles through play – and you can bet my playful grandma has already got a set!

These three games were created in partnership with fantastic volunteer testers from the ThinkFun community and AARP who gave feedback on everything from packaging to piece design to challenge progression. Industrial designers shared ergonomic pieces designed for larger hands, and testers voted for their favorites and shared great ideas about modifications and preferred game storage. Below is an example of insight from an early survey that led to the tagline “Cross Train Your Brain” on the package front!

Capture Brain Fitness games keep older brains sharp!

We spent several months working with these testers, sharing new ideas, testing play patterns, and refining these new offerings to ensure they were both a fun and challenging experience!

Testers shared some fantastic feedback after a month of playing…

“I plan ahead more. I think of the outcome before hastily acting.”

“I play bridge and find it easier to remember which cards were played!”

“Gets your brain thinking! Challenging, stimulating and fun all in one.”

“I plan to play these for a long time!”

Increasingly we are hearing about the importance of keeping our brains nimble and strong as we age.  With so many companies offering digital training games, we are very proud to present quality hands-on thinking games that engage players both on a tactile and mental level. These three classic ThinkFun games, Rush Hour, Chocolate Fix, and Solitaire Chess, have long been celebrated for pushing players to think harder and challenge themselves, and we are thrilled to present them now for an older audience!

Do you play brain games to keep your mind sharp? What are your favorites?

Move over Willy Wonka… GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

Our friends at Math Plus Academy, an academic enrichment program with 2 locations in Ohio, recently took their love of ThinkFun’s Chocolate Fix game to a pretty sweet new level. Madison Corna, a Director at one of the centers, shares their experience and some great photos of GIANT Chocolate Fix in action!

We became inspired to create Life-size Chocolate Fix after playing Human Rush Hour. (We thought Life-size Tip Over might be a little dangerous!).  Anything that gets the students up and moving around is great because it causes them to be even more engaged with the problem solving process.  Students LOVE this huge life size version of the game!

We always set it up in a tournament style with three or four rounds and the team who solves the challenges fastest wins! There are few things in the world that are more rewarding that seeing a child get excited about math and problem solving.

The first two (in the gym) are from an event at a local elementary school that we did called Think Tank.

CF4 300x225 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

life size choc fix 225x300 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

The photos below are from a STEM event for girls that we do called IGNITE (Igniting Girls’ Natural Inquisitiveness in Technology & Engineering).

Math promo 2012 300x200 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

CF21 300x200 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

CF1 300x200 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

We love seeing these big thinkers in action! Have you ever tried magnifying a favorite game?!

 

 

 

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.

ThinkFun Mind Games Sharpen Math Skills in Istanbul Schools

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:

excerpt ThinkFun Mind Games Sharpen Math Skills in Istanbul Schools

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

Dunya News Istanbul ThinkFun Mind Games Sharpen Math Skills in Istanbul Schools

Exploring the future of learning at TEDxEdmonton Education

Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling waaaaay up north to be part of the very first TEDxEdmonton Education conference!  In the TED spirit of ideas worth spreading, this conference focused around a conversation on how learning is evolving and impacting our schools, workplaces and industries.TEDxEdmonton logo 300x134 Exploring the future of learning at TEDxEdmonton Education

This fantastic event featured speakers directly from the education world and individuals doing innovative work  in related areas.  TEDxEdmonton Education was designed to kickstart a discussion on learning.  How do we disrupt the status quo and replace traditional approaches to learning? How do we leave the politics of education behind to focus on impact and innovation?  Some incredible conversations emerged!

Bill on stage 300x224 Exploring the future of learning at TEDxEdmonton Education

The 500+ attendees included students, educators, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, and community, technology, and business leaders across K-12 and post-secondary education… .quite a dynamic crowd!  Speakers included:

  • Larry Anderson, ManCap Ventures
  • Ashlyn Bernier, Graduate Students’ Association
  • David Bill, Urban School of San Francisco
  • Carla Casilli, Mozilla Foundation
  • Stephanie Lo, TED Ed
  • Bill Ritchie, ThinkFun Inc.
  • Amy Shostak, Rapid Fire Theatre
  • Kris Wells, Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services, University of Alberta
Recognize any names on that list?  That’s right, ThinkFun’s own Bill Ritchie was invited as a featured speaker to share his work in the space of education and building thinking skills through play!  Here he is in action…

Bills talk 300x224 Exploring the future of learning at TEDxEdmonton Education

Bill shared learnings from his 28+ years in the games industry, and his talk focused on the idea of Thinking Skills – having spent years searching for a definition and clear meaning of this term, Bill posited to the audience that people are just plain confused about what thinking skills are.  ThinkFun’s goal is to be pioneers in this space, creating programs that genuinely deliver thinking skills through playing experiences.

In Bill’s words, “We believe in the power of play to inspire kids and prepare their minds to be ready to learn, then it’s up to us to deliver the goods.”  He introduced ThinkFun’s newest Brain Lab program set to launch in November – stay tuned!

In discussing the typical way schools teach “thinking skills,” Bill shared this fantastic cartoon he dreamed up and our graphic designer created, anyone have a good caption!?

darth vader3 300x296 Exploring the future of learning at TEDxEdmonton Education

During the breaks between speaker sessions, attendees had a blast playing with ThinkFun games (even Giant Rush Hour made an appearance!)… some fun photos of the games in action:

photo 1 300x224 Exploring the future of learning at TEDxEdmonton Education

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The conference twitter stream captured some fantastic highlights of Bill’s talk and the conversations it sparked.

  • @maureen_parkerDo you believe in learning that is more than sugar-coated academic skills?” Bill Ritchie on creativity & thinking skills #TedxEdmonton
  • @puneetasandhu: When thinking skills are subjugated to academic skills, they kind of lose their soul.” -Bill Ritchie #tedxedmonton
  • @carolynjcameron: #tedxedmonton Bill Ritchie thinking skills incude whole person – emotional,cognitive, metacognitive-through play and game-making#gcms #psd70
  • @deanwalls: Bill Ritchie says to move from cognitive to metacognitive by designing, instead of doing, puzzles. #tedxedmonton
  • @wrice1978The importance of emotional, cognitive and meta cognitive skills and engagement to build thinking skills via Bill Ritchie. #tedxedmonton
  • @mmichellelam: “Play is what makes the world go around.” – in a conversation I had with Bill Ritchie from @ThinkFun #tedxedmonton”

I look forward to sharing a link to Bill’s talk once it is posted next month – stay tuned!

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!

Shape 5941 HiResSpill 150x150 A Love of Game Play Runs in the Family…

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.

ipad chocolatefix 300x270 A Love of Game Play Runs in the Family…

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?!

Drop Everything and PLAY!

The following post is shared by David Burk, a friend from TED and wonderful supporter of ThinkFun games who has clearly passed on his passion to his two children!  David and his family have created a “drop everything and play” tradition that I’m pleased to share here – hopefully it will inspire you to find new ways to fit playtime with your loved ones into your busy lives!

 

Ever since we discovered Rush Hour, ThinkFun games have had a place in our home.  When we got the whole complement of the games, we started a group tradition with them.  These days, the games live in our entry hall, under the “telephone table.”  Several days a week, when I come home from work, my kids (Ezra, 11yo, and Emmet, 9yo) will run to greet me, followed by my incredible wife.  We’ll usually throw down a few games and lie on the carpet right in front of the door, sometimes playing in parallel, sometimes working together.

RushH 5000 HiResSpill 300x300 Drop Everything and PLAY!           Choco 1530 HiResSpill 300x300 Drop Everything and PLAY!

Chocolate Fix has been the family favorite for a long time now.  Ezra is by far the best at these games, so he’ll do a few rounds and then start showing us all what we should be doing.  The play only lasts about 15-20 minutes, and it’s really fun!  Only when I step back and think about it do I realize that it is also a great way to focus, relax, and stretch the brain— all while spending family time together.  In summary, I get to turn off the work part of my brain and start being with my family, and my family gets to turn on their brains and have some fun together.  It’s lovely—and good for us.  Can’t beat that!

 

Does your family have a unique or special way you like to play together?  Is there a particular time in your day or week that you carve out just for play? Please share!

Design for Change Empowers Students to Change Their World!

The following guest post is shared by Sanjli Gidwaney, the Country Coordinator for the incredible Design for Change USA organization!  Sanjli first introduced readers to DFC in this 2010 guest post, and the organization continues to do incredible things to inspire creative social change – ThinkFun is thrilled to support them! 

Design for Change banner 300x64 Design for Change Empowers Students to Change Their World!

Children are not passive recipients of modern day pop culture and television overload, they are activators and change makers of their schools, communities and the world!

My name is Sanjli Gidwaney from Design for Change USA, a national school challenge engaging children in service learning projects with lasting benefit to their community. Design for Change USA (DFC) is part of a larger global movement involving millions of students and teachers from over 30+countries. We hope to empower students to address challenges which affect them directly by infecting them with the spirit of I CAN and tasking them with four simple steps:

  1. Feel anything that bothers you
  2. Imagine a way to make it better
  3. Do the act of change
  4. Share your story with the world

Last year, what started off as a small test pilot with a handful of students and educators, has now become a national campaign placing the USA at the forefront of service learning. This year, DFC received entries from coast to coast. Submissions ranged from buying basic necessities for children living in homeless shelters to sending letters of gratitude to United States Service Members. Teachers and students went above and beyond the call to action and we should all be very proud of their efforts.

The winning entry this year came from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco.  Their project, The ONE LESS Campaign, is designed to create communal awareness about the consequences of not only the production but also the purchase of non-organic clothing.

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Students from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco - Winners of Design for Change USA

In an attempt to pay it forward, the students at Lick-Wilmerding requested that the DFC team share their prize with the incredibly deserving children at the Vincent Academy, a new charter school serving a challenged community in Oakland. This is the truest representation of the spirit behind DFC.  Here are some wonderful photos of the students at Vincent Academy enjoying their new brain games!

IMG 0469 300x225 Design for Change Empowers Students to Change Their World!

IMG 0470 300x225 Design for Change Empowers Students to Change Their World!

We’d like to thank ThinkFun, our wonderful sponsors for their generous donation of over $500 worth of ThinkFun games. We believe that children learn best when they’re having fun and who does it better than ThinkFun?  It is the creative and team building skills learned through games such as Rush Hour and Chocolate Fix, which will enable students throughout the USA to brainstorm, create and execute on their plans to improve their schools and communities! Thank you for all your support and for believing in our mission.

 

DFC is a 100% volunteer run and we would not be where we are today without the support of passionate teachers and organizations who also believe that children are the drivers of change. If you are interested in finding out how you can get involved, please visit us at, www.designforchange.us or email us at info@designforchange.us .

Here is what you can do today:

  1. Spread the word about DFC by sharing the link with family and friends
  2. Sign up your school/organization
  3. Volunteer to lead a project at your child’s school/organization/sports team

By participating in Design for Change, you will be joining millions of students and educators around the world saying, yes I CAN.

ThinkFun Games Ignite Minds in a 7th Grade Math Class!

This story is shared by Lori Mullarkey, an incredible 7th Grade Math Teacher in Nebraska City!

 

Because so many students feel defeated before even giving math a chance in 7th grade, my classroom philosophy is to encourage students to like math more at the end of the year than at the beginning. I have found that doing several hands-on activities and giving time for problem solving games does just this! ThinkFun games help students feel a sense of mastery in math which they have seldom had before. The beginner levels meet students where they are at and give them a sense of accomplishment as they pass each challenge. Students continue to be challenged as they move through the leveled cards. I have several students who are proud and excited to tell me that they just passed every card in the deck!

 ThinkFun Games Ignite Minds in a 7th Grade Math Class!

My first experience with Think Fun Games was at a High Ability Learner’s (HAL) conference. One of the sessions focused entirely on problem solving through single player games. They walked us through the general plot of each game and simply gave us time to play. It was only a few minutes before I realized I was addicted myself and had to have these games! I knew that all my students, not just my gifted learners, would love playing these games. I hoped that these games would help my at-risk students find some fun and motivation in school (even if it was from problem solving games), so I purchased a small handful just to test them out in my room. The result has been amazing and I soon had a wish list a mile long for my classroom!

 

As the year progressed, I noticed that students would ask to play the games as soon as they entered the room. As other students began watching, they too would start begging to play and “calling” particular games at the beginning of the period. Knowing I did not have enough games for each student, I told students once their assignment was completed, they could choose a game for the remainder of class. Once all the games were chosen, they could play quietly in partners. Sure enough, I had almost all of my students focused on finishing their homework in order to play the game of their choice! Our MathCounts club also loved them so much we began fundraising in order to purchase more games for the room.

 

Over the past 2 years, I have collected nearly 40 different single player games and created a small problem solving station in my room. In addition to the games, I also purchased a cube storage unit with 5 different drawers. Each drawer is a particular type of game. Drawer 1: Navigation Station: Rush Hour, Roadside Rescue, Stormy Seas, etc. Drawer 2: Shape It Up: Shape by Shape, Block By Block, Square By Square, Tangrams, etc. Drawer 3: More Think Fun Games: Games that were created by Think Fun but I didn’t have enough of the same type to designate a drawer. Drawer 4: Educational Insight Games (similar to those of Think Fun), Drawer 5: Other: for smaller brainteasers (think fun also has several of these). Since these are designed to be single-player games, students simply take them back to their desk to play once their assignment is finished. There is also an eight-foot table in the back of our room for when partners or small groups want to work on a game together.

 

At the beginning of this year, I took a class period to explain the problem solving behind each game to all of my classes. Students were told that once they completed their assignment they may ask and select a game to play for the remainder of the period. About once a quarter, or before holidays, we have a problem solving day instead of having class. I set a game on each desk, and students shift over one seat every 10 minutes trying the various games in their row. At the end of the period, we spend time discussing the problem solving used in various games and students discuss how they would rate particular games.

 

I also am the sponsor for our MathCounts club, and students frequently request problem solving game days! The eighth grade students involved in MathCounts said they joined just for the problem solving games and the sixth grade students also love the chance to play them. Since there are not as many students as a typical class, we can focus a day on geometry and do the shape puzzles, or have a rush hour morning instead of practicing math problems. They simply can’t get enough!

 

Classroom favorites include: any of the Rush Hours, Shape by Shape, Roadside Rescue, 36 Cube, Hot Spot, and Chocolate Fix. As said before, most students stick with a particular game until they have mastered all of the cards. These games not only challenge kids, but my husband and I master a card at each level before bringing them to school for the students to play.

Want big fun? Super-size your games!

We’re all about the value of hands-on play here at ThinkFun, with games and puzzles designed to challenge players to think with their hands, encouraging tactile learning and building new understandings and strategies by manipulating pieces.  But why should the hands have all the fun?!

photo 2 300x224 Want big fun? Super size your games!

This week’s giant office-wide craft project to create two massive game mats for the Destination Imagination Global Finals got me thinking about the other ThinkFun games that have been super-sized over the years!

Back in February, Giant Swish was unveiled at the TEDActive Conference with an entirely new way to play!

TEDActive iPhone photos 055 224x300 Want big fun? Super size your games!

Giant Swish in action at TEDActive!

Any time I mention big games, I always hear, “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME to make a giant Rush Hour game?!”  It’s been done!  At the 2007 International Puzzle Party (IPP), puzzle-lovers from all over the world came together to take on a massive Rush Hour challenge – I must say I’ve never seen such cheerful people stuck in gridlock !

Giant Rush Hour IPP 300x200 Want big fun? Super size your games!

Giant Rush Hour is a crowd-pleaser at the International Puzzle Party!

This photo shows a huge version of our River Crossing game being played by none other than Andrea Gilbert, the game’s inventor!  This large hands-on puzzle was featured at the Delft Science Museum in 2006.

Large River Crossing 300x225 Want big fun? Super size your games!

Andrea Gilbert, the inventor herself, attempts a River Crossing challenge!

Slightly less fancy, but no less impressive, is another fantastic version of River Crossing – this one constructed by a teacher and his students in Mumbai, India!

IMG 9978 300x200 Want big fun? Super size your games!

Students in Mumbai, India construct a massive River Crossing game!

When Solitaire Chess was still in the development process, ThinkFun created gigantic versions of the game based on the most current prototypes!  During a company event, employees teamed up to try their hand at the test challenges and experience the game play in a BIG way!

DSC 0392 300x199 Want big fun? Super size your games!

ThinkFun employees puzzle over a Solitaire Chess challenge!

During this same 2009 company event, we tested out another new game that hadn’t yet been released… any guesses what this one became!?

DSC 0376 300x199 Want big fun? Super size your games!

I'm "knot" giving any clues...!

Here, a creative teacher in Vermont turned her students into candies for human Chocolate Fix!

Mary Ann Caraco 3 Want big fun? Super size your games!

 

Finally, here are the 2 most recent additions to our Giant Game collection, both featured at our Destination ImagiNation booth!  Check out Human Hoppers and Live Action Solitaire Chess!

photo 11 300x224 Want big fun? Super size your games!

photo 21 300x224 Want big fun? Super size your games!

What is it about playing a large-scale version of a game that makes it more engaging?  For our single-player games like Rush Hour, blowing them up into massive versions transforms them into collaborative, multi-player challenges – great for team building and encouraging effective communication!

Have you played a giant version of a game that’s been more fun than the original?  Please share!