Tag Archives: ThinkFun

Toy Fair or Bust!

With a verrrrrry ominous weather forecast looming, We at ThinkFun prepare to set out for Toy Fair in New York this weekend!  Several members of our team beat the storm and are setting up the booth today and tomorrow, while the rest of us hold our breath and hope that flights and trains make it out on time tomorrow!

When I taught 3rd grade, the reigning expert opinion was that sleeping in inside-out pj’s was the surefire way to guarantee a snow day, so I’m hoping that wearing mine properly will have the adverse effect.  Here’s hoping the snow allows tomorrow’s train to get me there in time for the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards celebration, where the winners will be announced!  With 4 nominations, we are hoping this is the year for a ThinkFun win!

A photo from the 2012 (snow-free) TOTY Awards

My packing list has grown considerably over the years!  In addition to snow boots, check out the super sweet swag I’m bringing along!  The only thing missing is a ThinkFun-themed ball gown for the TOTY red carpet…

Hope my ThinkFun Converse have good traction on the snow and ice!

Snazzy warm ThinkFun scarf to ward off the snowy cold

Gotta stay warm and caffeinated!

Umbrella ready, fingers crossed it turns to rain!

 

There's a stowaway in my ThinkFun lunch box! A little preview of one of our new 2013 games...

Will you be attending the show?  Please stop by Booth #2251 and say hello!

Safe Travels… and think melty thoughts!

Bring a MathDice Tournament to your classroom!

For the past several years, I have shared the fun of the annual Arlington County MathDice Tournament.  This county-wide event brings together students who have been practicing and playing Thinkfun’s MathDice game for months in preparation, and the skill level, determination, and often off-the-wall wacky team spirit is always inspiring!

For a refresher, check out last year’s MathDice-themed performance of Proud Mary!

This year, ThinkFun decided to package the Tournament experience so teachers worldwide could easily recreate the fun and learning that competition brings!  I am extremely proud of the MathDice Tournament Kit we’ve created, and I am thrilled to know this great learning game will help more students get excited about math!

I recently made a quick video explaining the basic MathDice game and sharing the contents of this new kit – you can check it out here!

ThinkFun games align with Common Core Standards

For those in the education world, the new Common Core standards  represent an important initiative in the pursuit of clarifying and improving the quality of education in the US.  Read more about Common Core standards here.

Coming from an education background, I have always been committed to furthering ways in which ThinkFun games can integrate into and enrich classroom learning.  Working with expert teachers and gifted specialists, I have begun the exciting work of mapping some of our great learning games to specific common core standards – both to help teachers select the most appropriate games for their learning goals, and also to help highlight the true academic value these thinking tools have!

This matrix represents exciting initial work, but we’ve got much more to do!  Are you an educator who uses ThinkFun games with your students?  I would love your help with this project – please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you are interested!

Happy Holidays from ThinkFun!

It has been a very festive week here at ThinkFun, capped off by the annual White Elephant Holiday Gift Exchange!  While we ThinkFunners work in harmony for 364 days of the year, this annual gift swap is a day for stealing, scamming, and cheating – all in the festive holiday spirit!  Check out photos and a play-by-play of this highly entertaining event here!

We ended our festivities as a cohesive group once more, snuggled up in our spiffy new Thinkfun scarves!

From the ThinkFun family to yours – I wish you all a very happy holiday season!

Solitaire Chess: Brainiac Edition

This email absolutely made my day!  Shad, a retiree from Montana who shared in this post how she and her husband play (and fiercely compete in) Solitaire Chess, wrote to let me know the game has now spread to her son and daughter in-law!   The mental image of this brainy family at play made me smile!

Shad's husband practices to maintain his competitive edge!

Dear Charlotte,

The funniest thing just happened.  Our son and his wife are here and we showed them the Solitare Chess.  Jessica is an electrical engineer and Todd is a PhD dissertation writer in Political Science.  They were stuck on #41.  Todd finally figured it out the way we do by thinking of how things can move and in what sequence makes things possible.  Jessica got out her little laptop and wrote some code to figure it out.  They came to their answers about the same time.

We really have had fun with that game!   What a funny evening.  We really enjoyed seeing how the two of them would manage.

Thank you

Shad

ThinkFun Celebrates FOUR Toy of the Year Nominations – Vote Now!

Yesterday was a VERY exciting day for ThinkFun!  I flew up to NY for the Toy Industry Association press conference to announce the nominees for the 2013 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards.

After being treated to a performance on the Bryant Park skating rink (by a professional, me on ice would not be a treat!), attendees gathered to hear the nominees revealed…

This year there were a record number of submissions (nearly 650!) for the 11 award categories… so you can imagine my delight to learn ThinkFun received a record FOUR nominations for Toy of the Year Awards!

The Nominees are (drum roll please…)

Roll & Play – Infant/Toddler Toy of theYear
Roll & Play – Educational Toy of the Year
Swish – Innovative Toy of the Year
Zingo! Sight Words – Educational Toy of the Year

After the nominees were announced (I refrained from inappropriate hooting and hollering!), I spent time checking out the competition, oogling the light-up Cinderella dress (so perfect for the TOTY Awards dinner!) and showing off my sub-par Nerf-catching skills

Hooray for Roll & Play! Celebrating the nomination with the wonderful Sherry Artemenko of www.playonwords.com

The best thing about the TOTY Awards is that they are decided to a large extent by YOU!  Vote now by clicking the games listed above or visiting www.toyawards.org and you could win a fabulous prize pack! (Voting ends Jan. 13th.)

THANK YOU for voting and for spreading the word, fingers crossed this will be ThinkFun’s year to take home the statue(s) at the TOTY Awards… I am reserving my fiber-optic Cinderella dress just in case :)

More Flashcards Please! (said no one ever!)

As any teacher or parent of an emerging reader will tell you, there are certain key words that children must learn in order to become fluent readers.  These words, called Sight Words, are words like “of” and “the” that appear frequently and are often not spelled phonetically.  Children must learn to recognize and read these words by sight, as stopping to sound them out would slow reading speed down significantly and make it difficult to promote comprehension.

Sight words (photo courtesy of Toys Are Tools blog)

So how do we learn these words?  For many, flashcards are an obvious choice since these are words learned through repetition that must be recognized at first sight… but how dull!  As a kindergarten teacher, I had a massive Sight Word Wall where we posted words like these throughout the year to practice and to build familiarity, and many other creative exercises and ideas have been shared by teachers, therapists, and parents to make learning more fun (just go to Pinterest and search for the term!).

Because learning these Sight Words is such a fundamental piece of becoming a successful reader, I am beyond thrilled that ThinkFun came out with Zingo! Sight Words!  This game uses the addictive fun of the Zingo! Zinger (I mean seriously addictive – have you ever tried to pry that thing away from a 5 year old?!) and modified game play to feature 26 critical Sight Words.

We love these fun photos of playtime with Zingo! Sight Words

No more flashcards! Zingo Sight Words builds reading muscles through play!

These words were selected by teachers and language therapists in the US and Canada from the 220 words on the official Dolch Sight Words list as the most important words for young readers to practice.

 

But don’t take my word for it, Zingo! Sight Words was awarded the Play Advances Language (PAL) Award for supporting language development through play and chosen by the organization as a top 10 game for 2012!  Read more in this press release.

Check out this amazing expert review of the game on the Toys Are Tools blog.  I love this blogger’s photo (and the word she invented in the accompanying caption!) – learning in action!

See how fast this kid's hand is? He Zingo-cizes regularly. He started playing Zingo when he was two

Do you have a creative way of reinforcing or teaching sight words?  I’d love to hear it!

Help ThinkFun bring smiles to Hurricane Sandy victims

UPDATE:  Thanks to a fantastic fan response, ThinkFun is thrilled to report a record 308 games were ordered in the 48 hours this promotion ran.  We are so pleased to send out 308 brand new games to the Toy Bank to help bring much-needed joy to families still suffering in New York and New Jersey.

 

In the wake of last week’s storm, our thoughts are with the families who have lost so much.

To bring some smiles to those who so desperately need them, ThinkFun is supporting the Toy Bank with a Buy One – Give One donation initiative – and we’d love your help!

Through midnight tomorrow (11/9), for every game purchased, we will donate a new game to support families affected by the hurricane.

We would love your help spreading the word about this win-win way to help others!  Here’s a link to a Facebook post you’re welcome to share, and a tweetable blurb as well:

Buy 1 Give 1! For every game sold @ThinkFun will donate one to a family affected by Hurricane #Sandy – Shop now! http://ow.ly/f8Bva

This also happens to be an ideal time for early holiday shopping, as we’re offering an additional 25% off all online orders with code HOLIDAY2012

I hope you and your family are safe and warm in Sandy’s aftermath, many thanks for spreading the word and helping ThinkFun bring some joy to families in need!

Keeping UnHinged from coming unhinged!

Love a good brainteaser?  UnHinged is one you’ll have trouble putting down… literally.  When we first showed this new puzzle back at Toy Fair in February, I found myself chasing several reporters through the aisles when then puzzle grew legs and walked off with them!

There’s something about the rhythmic flip, fold, stack tactile feel of this game that just feels great in the hand.

A mechanical puzzle like UnHinged is all about ease of manipulation, and ThinkFun spends a lot of time making sure we get everything right, from weight, hinge placement, materials, and tolerances.  We conduct extensive quality control testing, and I thought it’d be fun to share some photos of this puzzle being put through the ringer!

 

 Haven’t experienced UnHinged yet? Here’s a great how-to-play video to see it in action!