Tag Archives: rush hour

Using Games to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

An incredible letter recently made its way to my desk.  A woman in Alaska wrote to share a remarkable story, one that reaffirms the brain building (and in some ways even life-saving!) power of play and reminds us that the games we create can do powerful things.

Her letter gave me chills!rush hour brain injury Page 1 791x1024 Using Games to Treat Traumatic Brain Injuryrush hour brain injury Page 2 791x1024 Using Games to Treat Traumatic Brain InjuryThis isn’t the first we’ve heard about our games, particularly Rush Hour, being used to treat patients with brain injuries.  Over the years we have heard from many therapists who use our games to help patients rebuild cognitive and fine motor skills, and Rush Hour was recently featured in an NBC Nightly News segment on treating returning veterans with brain injuries.  We are eager to explore how we can continue to create games that support the incredible work these doctors are doing!

(Check out Rush Hour’s cameo at 00:38)

Are you a therapist or patient who has used games as part of your treatment?  Please share your story!

Age is just a number…

Another gem from the ThinkFun mailbag!  I loved this email and photo from Brian, a homeschooling father of 3.  Brian writes:Rush hour homeschool 225x300 Age is just a number...

“My wife and I have played several ThinkFun games at Mensa MindGames over the years, and we recently bought RushHour for our 3 kids.  We’re homeschoolers, and your puzzles are part of our curriculum.

I have attached a shot of our 4 year old Autumn playing Rush Hour.  (The 8+ age on the box is a standing joke in our house.)   Autumn is up to card #14, and Laura (age 5) is into the low 20’s already.  Santa brought them packs 3 and 4 in their stockings this year.  Thanks for some amazing games.  You guys do great work.”

We often hear from fans who report that the recommended ages on some of our games don’t apply to their kiddos.  With Rush Hour in particular, parents tell us their children as young as 3 are already taking on early challenges.  I’ve wondered what it is about this particular game that makes it such a natural for young minds to understand and take on.

In part, I think it’s because the goal is straightforward and the same for every challenge.  If you get the red car out, you’ve won – no need to check a solution or try another possible path.  The movement rules are also very intuitive – cars  move like regular cars, forward and backward in a lane, with no fancy jumps, turns, exceptions, or “flying cars” allowed.  Finally, the entry point to play (setting up the board) is something very young children love to do and can become comfortable with at a young age.  I’ve seen 2 year olds take huge pleasure in accurately setting up the vehicles to match the challenge card, a great spatial puzzle in itself!

rushhour ipad 300x235 Age is just a number...

With more and more young kiddos playing Rush Hour on the iPhone and iPad, this game is reaching more young minds than ever! With the quick flick of a finger, kids can test new paths, get comfortable with the movement rules and patterns – very satisfying, and very easy to reset again and again without loads of tiny plastic trucks strewn on the rug!

Have you found games for which the “recommended age” is too old/young for your children?  Please share!

 

8 Nights of ThinkFun!

happy hanukkah 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!I recently connected with Hilary, one of ThinkFun’s fantastic Facebook fans, who shared a fun new approach she and her family were taking for the Hanukkah holiday!  This year, she and her husband decided to keep Hanukkah simple with a focus on family togetherness, and they gave a new ThinkFun game to their sons each night for 8 nights!  Here Hilary describes the fun they had celebrating with good-for-you brain play!

This time of year is very present-heavy for our family, with Hanukkah at home, Christmas with extended family, and then the boys’ birthdays following in January and February.  I like to keep Hanukkah simple with a focus on family togetherness time.  I love how the many days of the holiday allows for time to actually focus on the present received before moving on to the next.

I thought that a few games would be great for the occasion.  I started looking for some games for my soon-to-be 5 year old son.  He’s already a huge fan of Zingo and Hoppers Jr., so I thought I’d see if there were any other games of the same quality.  I came across the Hebrew version of Zingo and couldn’t resist – how appropriate.  Then I saw so many other fun-looking games that I couldn’t stop there.  It turned into an 8 Nights of ThinkFun holiday!  The whole family managed to get in on the fun!

Night 1:

We played with the ThinkFun Sliding Puzzle on the way to downtown DC for the lighting of the National Menorah on the Ellipse.  Grandma had some skills that Spencer was most impressed with!

Slide puzzle 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

Grandma shows off her Slide Puzzle skills!

Later at home, that first night, we played Ducks in a Row.  You can see that Sam (our ten month old) is still working on good sportsmanship : )

Ducks 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

4 Ducks in a Row - high five!

Night 2:

Trango came next.  Sorry to say it was a bit of a bust, but we still had fun making patterns out of the pieces.

Night 3:

Next night was Swish.  What an awesome game! We adapted the rules slightly – taking turns looking for “swishes” until my older son caught on.  Then it was a free for all.  This game has come out every day since it was given.

playing swish 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

Swish in action

Sometimes to play by the actual game and sometimes to just study the cards and see what kinds of patterns we can make.  Spencer likes trying to make “letter swishes”, like – I,T, L, and O as well as shapes – squares, triangles, and diamonds.  We worked together to design a full 12 card swish.  I am overjoyed to see how much thinking and exploring he’s doing while playing.

Swish 225x300 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

Getting silly with Swish!

Night 4:

We moved on to a double game night on the fourth night – my husband got River Crossing, and my son got River Crossing Jr.

rc gelt 225x300 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

Learning to play River Crossing Jr.

After playing together for a bit to get the hang of the game, we moved on to Head-to-Head challenges.  Gelt comes in handy for more than just Dreidel!  With the stakes high, the boys were focused, but in the end Spencer was victorious!

rc challenge 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

A River Crossing face-off!

His triumphant joy is pure beauty!  Better luck next time, Dad!

rc winner 225x300 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

VICTORY!

Night 5:

Rush Hour took the stage the next night.  A bit too challenging for the boys – but those cars sure were fun anyway.  We’re waiting on a Rush Hour Jr. to arrive so that the Head-to-Head challenges can continue.  Spencer is determined to successfully solve one of the challenges.

rh 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

The faily explores Rush Hour

Night 6:

What’s Gnu? came next. Fantastic game for my emergent reader of a son. He was so proud of himself for actually making his own words.

Night 7:

The seventh night was a Zingo extravaganza. The Hebrew version was a huge hit. We eventually moved into combining the original, number, and Hebrew versions for a very fun, if mindboggling, game. This mama’s brain was getting tired! Thankfully, Sam brought the craziness to a close by crawling across the mayhem.

zingo1 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!
Night 8:

We ended our celebration quietly with Amaze.  Again – huge hit. As you can see, my son had to bring it to bed with him.  And as an added bonus it kept my 10 month old completely entertained on a half-hour car ride . I wish he could have told me what he was thinking!  Truly fun for the whole family.

amaze 300x225 8 Nights of ThinkFun!

Snuggled up with Amaze!

I can’t thank ThinkFun enough for providing such wonderfully fun and challenging games.  They helped to make our holiday so joyous.  It was so nice to spend such quality time together – learning and enjoying each other’s company.  And it seems we’ve barely scratched the surface of your catalog of games.  Good thing Spencer’s birthday is just a week away! : )

Thanks!
Hilary, Jerry, Spencer, and Sam

A Holiday Treat for Your Brain!

Guess who got a festive makeover?!  Introducing… holiday Rush Hour!

RHholiday 300x270 A Holiday Treat for Your Brain!

ThinkFun's Rush Hour: Holiday Edition app puts a seasonal spin on the award-winning Rush Hour game

We are so excited to share the Rush Hour: Holiday Edition app, available for a limited time for both Apple and Android devices!

Rush Hour: Holiday Edition gives ThinkFun’s classic brain game Rush Hour a complete redesign with seasonal graphics, 400 never-released challenges, four levels of play from Easy to Expert, and a whimsical holiday theme.  A perfect way to feed your brain – not your belly – this holiday season!

Your goal is simple, help Peppy the Penguin slide his red toboggan through the pile of presents. As you get better, the maze of presents gets more and more complex, and you’ll have to plan your moves carefully to break the little penguin free.

Rush Hour: Holiday Edition is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch as well as Android. It contains 400 all new challenges from Easy to Expert – and we’ve just lowered the price to $0.99!

Download from the Apple App Store, Android Marketplace, or Amazon’s App Store – your brain will thank you!

Can Games Make Kids Eat Their Broccoli?!

Sometimes it’s hard to give a quick, concise answer when I try and explain why I do what I do… which is why I’m grateful to little Joey R. at Pelican Elementary, whose letter I opened today.

What do our games actually DO?! I  couldn’t have said it better myself!

 

Thanks Rush Hr 819x1024 Can Games Make Kids Eat Their Broccoli?!

Our company is called ThinkFun for a reason – and both words are equally critical in guiding the games we produce.  Sometimes the “thinking” piece comes so naturally that kids aren’t even aware how hard they’re working as they play… think of us as the parent who hides the ground-up broccoli in the hamburger patties, making a yummy treat secretly more nutritious!

broccoli in disguise 300x270 Can Games Make Kids Eat Their Broccoli?!

If kids are only aware of the FUN, that’s certainly not a bad thing, but this letter stood out because this  student actually recognized all the ways his brain was working as he played Rush Hour – and STILL he reported that this game was his favorite!

Encouraging kids to enjoy stretching their brains and the challenge of a great thinking game is a wonderful thing – So maybe ThinkFun can’t get your kids to eat more broccoli, but brain games are a step in a healthy direction!

Games Ignite Minds in the Classroom

Another great note from the ThinkFun mailbag – this one from a school that received a donation from our company and is using games to inspire and motivate!

Granite Academy 300x244 Games Ignite Minds in the Classroom

Dear ThinkFun,

Thank you for donating your educational games to our classrooms!Rush Hour teaser 150x109 Games Ignite Minds in the Classroom

Our students love your hands on and interactive games… Our teachers do, too!  Since receiving the games and incorporating them into our academic classes, we have seen a spark in student’s motivation to apply their logic, reading, spelling, and teamwork skills.  Working with children in an alternative school placement setting often presents teachers with the challenge of making the classroom a “fun” place to be.  Your games have ignited our student’s interest in learning and have allowed classroom teachers to use the games as a motivational activities.  We often hear students saying, “Once I am finished with my classwork, can I play a game of Rush Hour?”.

As any teacher can attest, seeing students excited about learning and actively engaged in their academics is a successful day in the classroom.  Thank you for generosity!

Sincerely,
Caroline Walsh, Special Education Teacher
Granite Academy, Braintree, MA


Resource: Students benefit from teachers who build off their early childhood education degree and think outside the box to bring fun and engaging activities into the classroom.

A Homeschooling Mama on a Mission!

I am thrilled to feature the following guest post written by Amy, a missionary and homeschooling mom of 3 who uses games to enhance her curriculum.  Amy is the fantastic mom behind the Missional Mama blog which I encourage you to check out – and you can follow her tweets here!

Here Amy shares the many benefits of game play:

It all started with Rush Hour Junior!

Another family, who was years ahead of us in the homeschooling endeavor, mentioned that Rush Hour was their family favorite.  We were convinced to give it a try.

My oldest was around six at that time and he would spend hours setting up the cars just so and working his way toward the conclusion of the puzzle.  It was mind work and he enjoyed every minute of it. Once the levels were completed, he moved on to Rush Hour leaving Junior behind for the siblings.

After this experience, we found ourselves drawn to the ThinkFun displays at educational stores to see what else could help us along in our learning. ThinkFun games are highly motivational and enjoyable for our multi-aged homeschooling classroom not to mention useful towards our educational goals.  Here are a few reasons we like ThinkFun…

  • Critical Thinking Skills – Forget the workbooks, my children enjoy the hands on mental and visual skills required by ThinkFun. It does not even feel like learning!
  • Competition with Yourself – Because most of the games we have are one player, they can work towards harder cards and skills trying to exceed themselves.
  • Math – Many of these games sneak in Mathematical Skills. Try the Math Dice game which promotes mental math, for example.
  • Creative Thinking Skills – We found that ThinkFun can be enjoyed “outside the box” for those children who are wired that way. My oldest likes creating new patterns and sometimes new games with ThinkFun products.
  • Working Together – The older kids enjoy sitting with the younger ones occasionally and showing them how a game works.  They become the teachers and learners.
  • Playing Together – It is just fun!

We keep our ThinkFun games in our homeschooling basket to be pulled out during learning time, down time, or when we need a break. It also has been used as part of the curriculum when we are working on a skill such as mental math. So whether you use the games for homeschooling, quiet time, or family game night, you cannot help but have fun while learning along the way.

Our favorites are Zingo and Rush Hour, what are you family favorites?

Obama’s Elementary School in Indonesia Uses ThinkFun to Develop Creativity

This recent report from Fransiskus Asisi Elementary School in Jakarta, Indonesia (where President Obama spent 3 years as a student!) shares the school’s Math Club initiative, using brain games like ThinkFun’s Rush Hour to encourage creative thinking and problem solving among students!

Math Club (Creative Laboratory)
Fransiskus Asisi Elementary School, Jakarta, Indonesia

Fransiskus Asisi Menteng Dalam Elementary School (Asisi), Obama school 300x256 Obamas Elementary School in Indonesia Uses ThinkFun to Develop Creativityhas become famous lately.  Besides having good achievement, Asisi was one of Barack Obama’s elementary schools where the US president studied for 3 years.

Asisi has been building and preparing their program to be the best.  Since more global competition has come, the school realizes that it is very important to produce creative students ready to compete.  For that reason, Asisi has been  renewing their method to make students more creative, and a varied program is important so that it will not make students bored.  This creative method will make them enjoy their lessons and develop to be creative people.

Ms. Natalia Chandra Triwinaris is a math teacher and realizes that children nowadays are different from children 50 years ago.  In this era, children are dynamic, so schools need to improve their method to educate them.  Because of this, Asisi created the Math Club for grade 1 to 6.  Ms. Natalia said that most students at Asisi Elementary School don’t like math and think math is difficult.

ThinkFun games indonesia 300x224 Obamas Elementary School in Indonesia Uses ThinkFun to Develop Creativity

Students play Rush Hour in Math Club

Math Club is aimed to train students to practice math.  Math club has its own method to teach students not only learn from books, but also from toys.  The toys in this club are creative toys aimed to practice logic and creativity.  Ms. Natalia said these creative toys help students to think systematically which connects to solving math problems.  Besides that, these creative toys are aimed to increase concentration, imagination, patience, self confidence, and much more.  The toys used in this club are Rush Hour, Shape by Shape, Brick by Brick and Logix.  Rush Hour is aimed to increase the skill of systematic thinking and logic.  Shape by Shape is aimed to teach patterns, Brick by Brick is aimed to increase spatial thinking, and Logix is aimed to increase logic and judgement skill.

Rush Hour indonesia 300x224 Obamas Elementary School in Indonesia Uses ThinkFun to Develop Creativity

Asisi has also made a competition from these creative toys.  With this competition, teachers and parents expect students to become more creative and ready to compete in this changing world.  Now, creative toys are used by Asisi to explore creativity – not only for students but also for teachers and parents!

Nina’s Rush Hour Victory!

This video made my day!  A father teaching in Japan recently shared this fantastic video of his 5 year old daughter Nina working diligently through tough Rush Hour challenges.  Her flushed cheeks and “tired brain” at the end are signs of a real mind workout!

I sent Nina’s dad a message congratulating Nina on her impressive problem solving and was thrilled to hear back right away…

“Wow! What an honor to get a message from you! I discovered Rush Hour 10 years ago, in the U.S. I enjoyed it so much, I bought one to take back to Japan. My Japanese wife loves it, too. After doing all the cards, we put it away and forgot about it until Nina came along. I thought five might be too young, but Nina surprised us!”

Bravo Nina!

It is such a thrill making connections with thinkers all over the world… do you have great photos or video of your favorite game(s) in action?  Please share!