Tag Archives: ipad

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.

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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?!

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:

pogue main 299x74 Is Your Child an iPad Addict?!

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.

iPadScreenShot 300x225 Is Your Child an iPad Addict?!

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?

An App a Day Lets a Child’s Brain Play!

This summer has seen the birth of the iPad, and an explosion of fantastic new apps for iPhone and Android platforms.  While these apps helps grownups pass time waiting in line or keep us entertained on our subway commute, many parents and teachers are finding innovative ways to use mobile apps as learning tools!

The Love2learn2day blog on math education recently featured Rush Hour in a series on educational apps which got me thinking more and more about the ways in which apps can capture learner’s enthusiasm and help teach critical thinking skills, whether more general strategic thinking or more focused math/language practice.

Marvin Hall iPad 300x200 An App a Day Lets a Child’s Brain Play!

A young puzzler in Jamaica plays Rush Hour on the iPad!

The very next day I heard from my friend Marvin Hall in Jamaica – turns out his Puzzle Yuh Brain summer program now has students playing Rush Hour on game boards and on iPads side-by-side, very cool!

Have you used mobile apps as learning tools for your children or students?  What apps have you used, and what learning benefits do you see in them?  Please share your comments here!

Daddy Needs His iTouch back…

The following review is from a post by Damon Caporaso, dad of 3 and part owner of BSCkids and BSCreview, websites that provide a safe space filled with fun and engaging content for kids!

Rush Hour for the iPhone – iTouch – iPad – Review

I was just introduced to the fact that ThinkFun has a Rush Hour app for the iPhone/Touch/Pad family.  Now as you know we love Thinkfun games, well because they are fun and make you think, big surprise that a company name actually makes perfect marketing sense.  Well before I went to the Toy Fair this year I already knew a bit about ThinkFun as my one son got Rush Hour Jr. for Christmas.

He played for days and days then, and now he has already moved on to hoggin my iTouch from me to complete just another challenge in the Rush Hour app.  I really do not mind though as this really does help problem solving and it works great for a trip in the car.  I know if my wife has to run into the grocery store and I am staying in the car with the kids because she says it will be quick, this application is a life saver.  Quick is always such a relative term when it comes to shopping and this application can weather the storm of 15 minutes or more to get “a few things.”

What I really found nice was the fact that they included so many puzzles in the pay version of the application.  I believe it clocks in at 2500 challenges and just because you have gotten the red car out of the traffic jam does not mean that you have completed the game with with a “perfect score.”  That “perfect score” feature is very nice as it allows for even more replay ability and a greater sense of accomplishment.  You may not want your kids playing games that are mindless, but that is not what Thinkfun is about, you can feel very comfortable allowing your kids to have some play time with this application.  They will come away learning some good problem solving skills among other things.

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Rush Hour iPad app in living color!

We have attached a screenshot for the iPad, and it looks stunning. Not to say that the iTouch/iPhone version is any slouch either as it looks great as well.  Download the app, you will not be disappointed.  My only complaint is that I get a lot less time on my own iTouch because of it, and that little kid fingers are not always the cleanest things in the house!

Playing in Traffic!

The following guest post is by Kim Vandenbroucke, a game inventor and developer, brainstorming facilitator and writer.  On her website, TheGameAisle.com, she not only reviews games but also highlights the inventors tinkering behind the curtain who come up with the amazing products.  She is also the new spokesgamer for Games for Fundraising and a writer for Games for Educators!

Recently I was on the ThinkFun website and saw the big ad for the iPad and iPhone Rush Hour apps saying “Now even more ways to play in traffic!” This made me chuckle.  Why? Because I live in Chicago where, despite a state-wide ban, 80% of drivers are texting, emailing, or talking on their cell phones while driving… so really we don’t need more ways to “play in traffic!”

iPadScreenShot 300x225 Playing in Traffic!

Rush Hour iPad app in living color!

But you know who could use an app like that….our car mates!  Yes, the husbands, co-workers, and friends who play backseat driver and insist they know a “better way” out of the gridlock by taking some crazy side street that has potholes large enough to swallow small children and Smart cars.

And youngsters aren’t much better.  Teens complain, kids get antsy; the longer the car ride is, the less pleasant it gets.  But I have a solution.  Fork over your iPhones.  Yes, that’s right, hand them over (since you shouldn’t be using them anyway!).

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Happy child, happy driver!

This could be a win-win for all drivers and passengers.  Drivers get to listen to the music, talk radio or audio book they want without hearing how long the ride is or how the lane next to them is moving faster.  And while the drivers are focusing on the road, the passengers get to work their own magic and move the little red car from the impossible cluster of cars in the Rush Hour app.  And who knows, maybe the gridlock everyone is experiencing could bring us closer together.

Calling all iPad Junkies… Universal Rush Hour App Now Available!

Press Release: April 9, 2010

Renowned game and puzzle manufacturer, ThinkFun Inc., is proud to announce the release of Rush Hour for the new Apple iPad.  Rush Hour for iPad is the latest addition to the suite of Rush Hour apps available across a wide range of mobile platforms.  The new iPad app is designed to take advantage of iPad’s larger screen and Multi-Touch user interface to enhance the play experience.  The universal app costs $2.99 while existing Rush Hour for iPhone and iPod touch customers will receive free upgrades.

iPadScreenShot 300x225 Calling all iPad Junkies... Universal Rush Hour App Now Available!

Rush Hour on the iPad

“It’s fitting for Rush Hour to be one of the first apps launched on the iPad,” said Bill Ritchie, CEO and Co-Founder of ThinkFun.  “Rush Hour is the original sliding block logic puzzle, and it is the granddaddy of all the ‘beginner to expert’ logic puzzles now on the market.  The iPad is a genuine game changer, and we are thrilled to again be at the beginning of a new era in game playing.”

The Rush Hour iPhone App has received rave customer reviews on iTunes for its clever challenges and intuitive navigation.   ThinkFun has completely rebuilt the game graphics to take advantage of the iPad’s innovative Multi-Touch interface and large screen.

Rush Hour for iPad is packed with features, such as:

  • The free app has 35 original challenges.  The full version has 2500 challenges ranging from EASY to EXPERT
  • Will entertain novice players and test advanced players with super-hard expert levels.
  • Perfect Score — Rush Hour tracks the spaces moved to get out of traffic jams and compares it to the shortest path possible. You win when you get the Red Car out… but you can’t claim mastery until you hit a perfect score.
  • Hint Button — If you feel a little lost and want a nudge in the right direction, the HINT button is ready for you to press as often as you like.
  • Solve Button — No matter where they are in a challenge, the solve button shows players how to solve it, then puts them back where they left off so players can learn and complete the challenge themselves.
  • Multi-language — In addition to English, Rush Hour is available in German, Spanish and French. Viva Rush Hour!

“Rush Hour was late to the mobile app market, and we knew we needed to do something special to make an impact,” said Ritchie.  The company contracted with a master programmer to reimagine how to generate the puzzle challenges, developing a system that can create and sort tens of thousands of new Rush Hour challenges!  “Bringing that program up to speed was like discovering a gold mine; it brought a whole new dimension of play to what was already the world’s most fun puzzle!”

So is having Rush Hour available at the launch of the iPad a pinnacle of success for this venerable puzzle game?  “Not at all,” says Liz Deakin, ThinkFun’s Director of Marketing and Sales.  “We are now working on a Multi-Player version of Rush Hour, slated for release this summer, where players compete for fastest times over the internet.  We are developing an online version of Rush Hour to help teach thinking skills as part of a disciplined program for families and schools.  For us, the Apple iPad release doesn’t represent an end, it’s more like a new beginning.  We are very excited!”

For more information on the ThinkFun Rush Hour iPad app, please visit: http://www.ThinkFun.com/RushHour