Tag Archives: Solitaire Chess

Solitaire Chess Teaches Students to Look Before They Leap!

Teaching eager young learners to slooooow down and think carefully before racing to a conclusion is a tricky task!  Helping students apply the brakes and think their way through a problem is a whole lot easier when you can present a challenge that naturally forces them to do so…much more effective than nagging reminders to “stop and think!”

ThinkFun’s new game Solitaire Chess does just this!  A single player logic puzzle based on the rules of chess, Solitaire Chess challenges players to use traditional chess moves to eliminate all but one piece in a given challenge.  The physical game features 60 challenges, and a newly released app has a whopping 400!  Try it out and you’ll see how easy it is to get hooked!

The notion that playing chess is good for you, building thinking skills through play, is certainly nothing new.  For years studies have explored how this highly strategic game improves players brain function, and schools all over the world integrate chess programs into their instruction to help build students’ thinking in new ways.  The beauty of Solitaire Chess is that it makes chess accessible to players who have never been introduced to the game.  The quick to learn game play lets players dive in at an appropriate level and build expertise and confidence as they go!

The idea that teachers can use of this new game in the classroom thrills me (are you surprised?!), which is why I was so excited to read a recent blog post by gifted specialist Tamara Fisher on the reaction her students had to this new game.  Tamara shares her experience using Solitaire Chess with her gifted students, and she provides excellent tips to help others use this game as a learning tool!  Here is an excerpt from her post, and the full story can be found here.

“What I’m finding is that Solitaire Chess is proving to be an excellent way to help these bright kids learn how to think something through before diving in. My gifted students are often so capable at challenges that they can typically dive in and figure it out as they go. But the nature of Solitaire Chess requires some pondering first in order to achieve a successful outcome. I don’t know that there’s a more fun way to help our brightest students learn to look before they leap!”

Tamara also shares some fabulous comments and insights from her students…  I love the way this game enables students to be reflective on their thinking process and appreciate the benefit that extra “think time” allows!  Here are some of my favorites:

“It hurts and works your brain, but it’s very fun and challenging. I liked that some puzzles took longer than other to solve. I love it!”

“A very fun and interesting game. It really makes you think about the outcome and figure it out in your head before you go ‘hands-on.'”

“This game is nothing like any other game I’ve ever played. It’s like swimming in the ocean; if you jump right in you’ll get eaten by a shark, but if you wait and think about how to avoid the shark you’re alive!” (love this!)

“I LOVE this game. It’s chess upgraded! It makes me look beyond what’s in front of me! This game takes patience and skill.”

I love the way this game enables students to be reflective on their thinking process and appreciate the benefit that extra “think time” allows!

Have you used Solitaire Chess or another great thinking game in the classroom?  How have you used games to encourage your students to think in new ways and practice new skills?  Please share your experience below!

Want more?  ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie shares more on how Solitaire Chess challenges build problem solving skills in his article “Building Thinking Skills Through Chess” featured on the United States Chess Federation’s website!

Break out your evening gowns… it’s the Oscars of the Toy Industry!

** Vote for ThinkFun! **

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has  announced the 2011 nominees for Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards… and the celebrated nominees include TWO brand new ThinkFun games, Solitaire Chess and Math Dice Jr!  These awards are considered the “Oscars” of the toy industry, and while it is an enormous honor just to be nominated, we want to WIN!

For the first time ever, voting is open to the public, and we need your help!  Please go to www.toyawards.org and vote for our 2 nominated games:

Solitaire Chess: nominated for Specialty Toy of the Year
MathDice Jr: nominated for Educational Toy of the Year

As an added incentive, your vote enters you to win oodles of fabulous prizes!

We at ThinkFun are honored to see months of hard work and testing result in this recognition, and we so appreciate YOU, the members of our extended ThinkFun family, voting to see these two games win big!

Please click HERE to vote by January 14th and help spread the word!

Playing Games with Problem Solving!

The following post is by Dawn Morris, whose blog Moms Inspire Learning focuses on resources and strategies to inspire lifelong learning, reading, and leading.  A former CPA, Dawn changed careers and earned an M.A. in Childhood Education and now shares her passion for teaching kids to embrace a lifelong love of learning!

The following is an excerpt from Dawn’s recent post on problem solving games.  Read her complete article here!


Sometimes, it amazes me how much out-of-the-box thinking can be packaged inside one game box.

Even if you just have a deck of cards, there are probably millions of different games which can be played – not to mention ones you think up on your own. It doesn’t matter which one you play, as long as you do take time out to play it!  Just as my daughter started to cook on her own, children will eventually start to play games on their own as well.

We love to play all kinds of board and card games together.  And we’ve done that ever since they were toddlers, really. There are games out there for all ages. It doesn’t matter what kind of game it is, as long as it’s unplugged. Video games can be educational too, but we have to limit them like any other form of screen time.

As my sister-in-law is a very busy mom of three, I’m always on the lookout for toys, games, and books which will make her life a little easier.  So, wanting similar gifts for my 8 year old twin nephews, I ended up purchasing  Chocolate Fix and Rush Hour. They’re geared to children over the age of 8, but people of all ages will love the challenge of them, as there are 4 levels of play.

Before I tell you just a little bit about each of these games, let me just tell you I love most about them: they can be played independently, or with a partner, AND they’re portable and can be played anywhere – even in the car! What a great, unplugged way to keep children (and even teens) entertained and busy while you do something else.

51mWMzAS5ZL._SL160_ Chocolate Fix comes with 9 “chocolates,” a little notebook of different patterns to solve (kind of like Sudoku, but with colors and shapes), a game tray, and a bag to store it all in. As long as there aren’t any toddlers around, who might actually try to eat the chocolates, it’s a great game to leave out on the coffee table or in your car. Whenever a family member has a spare ten minutes, like when a child is waiting for you to finish something, what a great way to sneak a little fun and problem solving in there!

The same goes for the award winning Rush Hour, only there are individual cards instead of a notebook, and there are 16 cars and trucks, instead of chocolates. This game is a little different, though, in that you arrange the trucks on the game board according to the cards (from beginner to expert). Then, you have to find a way to get the red car out of traffic. It’s literally stuck between the other cars, and you have to move them around (forward and backward only) to clear a path. What a great way to keep children busy while you’re stuck in traffic!  ThinkFun Rush Hour Jr. is available for even younger children.

511EoXSDVcL._SL160_Recently, ThinkFun was kind enough to send me their newest game, ThinkFun Solitaire Chess, for review. If you’re thinking about teaching your child to how to play chess, this is the game for you!  It’s also a one player game, and you have to know how each piece moves. If you don’t already know how, it’s great practice.

Like Rush Hour and Chocolate Fix, Solitaire Chess is all about the problem solving. As a matter of fact, when we first opened up the box, it was a challenge just to figure out how to get the mats out of the game tray! They were in there snugly.

The game tray is set up like a mini Chess board, and each mat has a different combination of pieces for you to set up. The object is to capture pieces until you’re left with just one. Which one you choose to move first makes all the difference. Whether you use the “guess and check” method and just start moving pieces, or you move the pieces around in your mind before you actually move one, it’s a great exercise in spatial perception, critical thinking, and logic.

I really enjoyed playing all three of these games, as did other members of our family. They’re perfect for busy families, and can challenge people of every age. Whether you leave one out on your coffee table, or in the car, you can set it up and play within seconds.

So, the next time your child says, “Are we there yet?” or “There’s nothing to do” and you need a few more minutes of alone time, one of these games might just solve your problem.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!