Tag Archives: Zingo

Why Our Education System Is So Stuck

blogPic 236x300 Why Our Education System Is So Stuck

Thinking Skills: Sigmund Freud Meets Apple Pie

For years I have been ranting about the American education system, how murky and ill prepared it is to consider new ideas. I gave a TEDx talk about this in 2012: one of my slides was a cartoon I had made to describe how profoundly confused the situation is.

Don’t worry if you don’t get this cartoon… you’re not supposed to. The idea is that it’s an enigma… something so ingrained you’re not sure if you are allowed to think that you don’t understand it.

The biggest thing gnawing at me the past few years has been the “HOW” question… this is such an important topic, how could things have gotten to be this way?

And so I was very happy to find the answer lurking inside an article in last Sunday’s Washington Post, about Bill Gates and the new Common Core education standards.

Says Gates: “The funding, in general, of what works in education… is tiny. It’s the lowest in this field than any field of human endeavor. … As a result, there is a paucity of information about methods of instruction that work.”

So why is it that I’ve had these murky, queasy feelings about education? Because it turns out the American Education system has the lowest R&D funding of any field of human endeavor! This starts to make sense now.

OK then… with this post I’ve dug a little bit into what the problem is. Next look for some solution ideas.

And do read the Washington Post piece. It turns out that Gates is using his millions to rebuild the entire USA education system, makes for a fascinating and revealing read.

Costers2

Meet the Zingo inventors!

The newest additions to the Zingo! family have arrived: Zingo Word Builder and Zingo! Time-Telling… and the inventors of the original Zingo! game give them a thumbs-up from their home in Israel!

Costers2 300x225 Meet the Zingo inventors!

Theo and Ora Coster created the original Zingo! Zinger… did you know they’re also the inventors of the classic game Guess Who?

Costers 300x225 Meet the Zingo inventors!

ThinkFun Games in Nigeria!

When traveling, I have an endearing habit (in my opinion, my husband may disagree!) of stopping in every single toy store we pass in search of our games. It is always a thrill to see ThinkFun games all over the world, and I always stop to take photographs and connect with a store employee.

This doesn’t always go over well, particularly the time I spotted some awful Rush Hour knockoffs in Hanoi Vietnam and tried very unsuccessfully to communicate. The message I finally got across was crystal clear, “I am a crazy woman who speaks no Vietnamese and loves hand gestures.”

Far MORE rewarding than seeing our games on shelves overseas are the photos of our games in the hands of kids all over the world! Our distributor in Nigeria recently shared some fantastic photos of Rush Hour, Swish, and Zingo! being played by students!

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2 young problem solvers take on Rush Hour Jr.

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Students playing Swish

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Zingo!

Using Bingo as an Educational Game

The origins of our beloved Zingo’s name are not difficult to trace – climb one branch up on the family tree, and you’ll find the classic game of Bingo! While Zingo is designed to support early reading and language skills, I was thrilled to know its educational roots run deep – did you know the age-old game of Bingo was originally created to teach children math?! Read on to learn more – and get tips on hosting your own learning-packed bingo experience!

kid bingo Using Bingo as an Educational Game

How to Use Bingo as an Educational Game

After it first originated in the 1500s in Italy, bingo spread through Western Europe. When it finally reached Germany it was adopted by the nation for the purpose educating young children about how to learn mathematics. This proved to be very helpful to the children, who went on to grasp all of the basics with relative ease.

Well, this lesson is just as applicable today as it was back then. You can use bingo as an educational game to help your children learn more for school. The reason why it will succeed is because you get to repackage learning within a fun trivia game that will also come with prizes. Below we will go through all of the basics on how to arrange such an event.

What You Need to Do

  1. Decide on the subject that you would like to cover: Pick perhaps a difficult area of education or something that would help your child’s friends.
  2. Start choosing the questions: Go through your chosen subject – it could be History, Math, or anything else – and select 25 questions for the kids to answer. The reason why you select 25 is because they will be playing on a 5 x 5 grid.
  3. Design your printable bingo cards: Use your computer to draw up a 5 x 5 grid numbered between 1 and 25 – these will be the bingo cards used for the game.
  4. Assign questions to the numbers: Each of the numbers on the bingo cards should correspond directly to one of your 25 trivia questions. Be sure to make a list of the questions and their assigned numbers – 25 is too many to remember.
  5. Get the balls ready: Go to the store and pick up at least 25 ping pong balls (extras can be used as spares). A good idea is to buy them in different colors to resemble the traditional balls. Now that you have your bingo balls you have to number them between and 1 and 25. All you need to do is draw on the numbers with a black permanent marker.
  6. Find a large container: This will be used to house all of the balls for the game. The way it will work is that you pick out a ball at random and then ask the corresponding questions until the game is finished. The winner will be the kid with most correct answers.
  7. Send out the invites: With all of the hard work out of the way you just need to send out the invites.

The Final Touches

Before we leave you, we are first going to impart some advice on creating a perfect bingo night. Make sure in advance that you have plenty of seats and chairs ready, not to mention daubers to mark off the answered questions. Also, your players will be very grateful for refreshments, so make sure you have plenty of juice boxes ready and healthy snacks for when they take a break. Lastly, make sure everyone has plenty of prizes to win because that will make the whole event more rewarding.

Follow these steps and to a fruitful and rewarding educational experience is guaranteed. Enjoy!

Getting Crafty: DIY Zingo!

Zingo 7700 LoResSpill 300x300 Getting Crafty: DIY Zingo!

Zingo!

What can you teach with 72 plastic tiles?

As I’ve shared in past posts, it turns out a creative brain can tweak these tiles to teach just about anything – from genetics to family member names!

This latest post, shared by Tammy G. of the Fumbling Thru Autism blog, shares some fantastic ideas (and a great how-to description for all you crafty folks!) for modifying the classic Zingo! game to expand game play and support learning!

Expanding ZingoPosted: March, 2, 2013

In my last post, I wrote about how to make easy turn-taking games easier. Now Beth and I play turn-taking games for hours every day.  It is so wonderful to work on interaction and language development and have fun at the same time.

When given a choice of games, Beth always chooses Zingo.  There is something uniquely fun about sliding that dispenser to eject the game pieces, matching the pictures, and then throwing up our hands and yelling (well, quietly yelling) “Zingo!” when we are done filling our cards.  During the game Beth readily talks.  I ask, “What did you get?” and she almost always answers.

 Getting Crafty: DIY Zingo!

Farm & Vehicles Zingo!

Lately I don’t even need to ask, she is commenting on her pieces without prompting.  I also expand her language based on the game pieces. “What does the dog say?”, “Where does the bird fly?”, and “Where do you put a hat?” are just a few examples of ways we expand language during play.  After running out of ideas to expand Beth’s language using the Zingo game pieces, I realized it was time to expand Zingo itself.

Below are two ways I have expanded Zingo by making custom made Zingo game pieces.  I wanted to keep our original Zingo game intact so that we could still play the game, so I bought a second Zingo game (Zingo 1-2-3 numbers version, which we will use later when she is counting) to attach pictures to the game pieces.

Clip Art on Zingo Game Pieces

I bought JPEG clip art files from an artist on Etsy.  Using Power Point, I sized the clip art appropriately and added text under each picture, then I printed out game boards and smaller images for the Zingo game pieces.  Next, I cut out and covered the game boards with clear Con-tact paper and cut out the smaller images and attached them to the Zingo game pieces (I used clear Con-tact paper to attach the paper to the game pieces, but Scotch tape should also work).

Here are two sets of games I made with links to the JPEG files and my Power Point Templates:

 Getting Crafty: DIY Zingo!

Summer & Brown Bear, Brown Bear Story

 Getting Crafty: DIY Zingo!

Easter

Below you can find Power Point Templates to create your own boards and Zingo game pieces:

Another method is to buy stickers and put them on the Zingo game pieces, which is a great option for adding your child’s favorite characters to the Zingo game.

 Getting Crafty: DIY Zingo!

Here is a game set using Dora and Pooh stickers

If you want to reuse your tiles, be aware that some self-adhesive stickers adhere strongly, so it will be a lot of work to remove the stickers. Also, it was difficult to find stickers that were the right size to cover the whole original image on the Zingo game pieces. Therefore, for most stickers sets, I cut out each sticker to the appropriate size and stuck it on white paper, then attached the mounted sticker to a Zingo game piece with clear Con-tact paper (alternatively you could use Scotch tape).

Another option is to print the images on self-adhesive computer labels and attach them to the Zingo game pieces, but they might be difficult to remove at a later time.

Want to DIY?! Tammy has generously shared JPEG files for the 4 game boards and game pieces with instructions in this post, get crafting!

 

Toy Fair 2013: Behind the curtain…

Each year when I tell friends – especially those with kids – that I’m headed to Toy Fair, the first response is generally, “That sounds AWESOME, how do I get in?!”

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Unfortunately for my game-loving buddies, this event is not open to the public. Learning the doors are locked tends to conjure up visions of top-secret toy meetings, tinkering elves, a massive toy workshop inside the Javits Center… the imagination can run wild!

I hope I’m not spoiling the magic by sharing the experience inside the ThinkFun booth…

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Welcome to the ThinkFun Booth!

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Laser Maze, available in May!

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I thought you said no outside visitors?! This brainy bird couldn’t resist playing WordARound during show set-up!

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The ThinkFun team, ready to roll!

Sadly no game-making elves were spotted this year, but we were thrilled to visit with some amazing  inventors who have created many of our great games… kind of the same thing right?!

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A familiar face! ThinkFun co-founder Bill Ritchie poses with his two toddler inventions: Roll & Play and, new for 2013, Hello Sunshine!

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Luke Hooper, one of the inventors of Laser Khet, stopped by to pose with the amazing new game he created with ThinkFun – Laser Maze features a REAL (safe) laser, we can’t wait for it to arrive in May!

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The Hebert Brothers are the brainy duo who created WordARound, we’re addicted!

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A visit from the inventors of UnHinged!

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The Costers are the inventors of the iconic Zingo Zinger!

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Steve Hayton, Turnstile inventor, visited ThinkFun to say hello!

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Yackety Smack inventor Roberto Fraga stopped by to play!

Despite auspicious beginnings (ahem, Snowstorm Nemo, I mean YOU!), 2013 Toy Fair was a fantastic show – The Toy of the Year Awards were a wonderful celebration to begin the festivities, and our 5 new games were so well-received – and we are looking forward to a terrific year!

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.

mistaken+idea 001 More Flashcards Please! (said no one ever!)

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!).

 More Flashcards Please! (said no one ever!)

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.

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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.

 

PAL 100 More Flashcards Please! (said no one ever!)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!

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

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

Halloween… ThinkFun-style!

Happy Halloween!  As you can imagine, a fun day filled with candy and dress-up is right up our alley here at ThinkFun!  We’ve set the costume bar pretty high in year’s past, and this year’s celebration did not disappoint!

Check out some of the amazing ThinkFun-inspired costume creations in our office today…

Roll and play Halloween... ThinkFun style!It’s Roll & Play! Kirsten and Josh act out ThinkFun’s first toddler game!
zingo Halloween... ThinkFun style!
Alicia proves once and for all that the Zingo! Zinger is truly irresistible to children!

 

 

 

yackety smack Halloween... ThinkFun style!

Juan gets into character as the Yackety Smack "Hi-YAH!" karate chop!

 

Smatch Halloween... ThinkFun style!

Jodi is stunning as the S'Match Spinner!

Swish Halloween... ThinkFun style!
Greg gets so in-character as Swish he’s nearly transparent!
izzi Halloween... ThinkFun style!

Ashley's got the Izzi color palette just right!

rush hour Halloween... ThinkFun style!

Tania models a Rush Hour-inspired ensemble!

Bagged games1 Halloween... ThinkFun style!

Bill and Andrea get cozy as ThinkFun bagged games!

Pinterest Halloween... ThinkFun style!

I came as a ThinkFun Pinterest board!

 

2013 Halloween... ThinkFun style!

2013 Games Sneak Preview! Nic shows off the awesome superpower of the new Word-A-Round game, while Katie came as Sunny from our upcoming Hello Sunshine toddler game! Watch for these and more great games early 2013!

Team Photo Halloween... ThinkFun style!

Happy Halloween from ThinkFun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zingo by candlelight…

foosball 150x150 Zingo by candlelight...I hope you and your family are safe and sound in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We were very fortunate not to bear the worst of it in the DC area, and I’m thinking dry thoughts for friends in areas harder hit.

At our house, Sandy meant an epic foosball tournament.  In between rounds (or for me, losses),  I saw a wonderful trend emerging in my Twitter feed… seems when the lights go out, people get a lot more resourceful – and playful!

Some highlights:

 Zingo by candlelight...

 


For one dad in NY, 20+ rounds of Zingo! just about did him in!

And finally, a silver lining to all that time spent playing… a dad reports a MAJOR victory!

  • @double21d: The streak is over!!! I finally beat my son at Zingo…
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Our Facebook friends played their way through Hurricane Sandy too!

Do you play games when the lights go out? Which are your family’s favorites?!