Tag Archives: Zingo

Genetics… with a Zing!

The following guest post is shared by Allyson Zanetti, a biology teacher for at-risk students in a high school outside Detroit… the way she has taken Zingo!, a game originally designed for preschoolers, and transformed it into a tool to teach the principles of genetics is incredible!

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Genetics with a Zing!

Teaching at-risk high school students can be a challenge, but it is a job I adore. I begin this school year with much enthusiasm especially eager to use the Think Fun Zingo! Bingo with a Zing games that were generously donated to my classroom for a genetics assignment. Yes, genetics – I teach high school biology at Southgate Adult and Community education, an award winning school for at-risk youth in suburban Detroit.

Often teachers think that all of the fun and games occurs in the elementary grades or that pretending needs to be left in preschool. Well, that attitude is not prevalent in my school. Many of the teachers are incredibly creative bringing complicated physics topics to life with Hot Wheel cars or playing dice to explain algebraic equations.

I use my colleagues as an inspiration trying to think of ways to make high school biology fun. I can hear some you gasp and moan at the thought of looking through a microscope, dissecting a frog or learning about DNA. I understand that science is not for everyone, but for me it is the most interesting field there is and I want all of my students to see the wonder in the natural world, too.

Teaching genetics is a complicated topic. The introduction is usually one my students dive into with gusto. They like finding out why they have brown eye and their brother has blue eyes or why they can roll their tongue to look like a straw and their lab partner can’t. However, their gusto quickly wanes as words like dihybrid cross and heterozygous recessive come into play. In the past, I talked about Gregor Mendel and his pea plants with passion, but their eyes would glaze over. The concepts of genetic ratios went in one ear and out the other and their test scores showed that I was not teaching that topic in an effective way. What could I do to help them understand Mendelian genetics? We talked about roosters and their combs on top of their heads and white cats with long tails and brown cats with short tails, but they still looked at me as if I was speaking a languae they did not understand.

One evening while playing Zingo with my son, I realized that there is an aspect of probability to the game and that I could use it to teach genetics. I dove into modifying the game to be used as a manipulative in my classroom. I put labels on the backs of the plastic game pieces and then brought it to school.

My students huddled around the single game and watched as I showed them the possibilities that would occur if a short- tailed, white cat mated with a brown longed-tailed cat. Students created data sheets for keeping track of the tail lengths and color of the cats.

IMG 1206web 300x225 Genetics... with a Zing!After 16 pulls, the students tallied their results. We talked about probability and they discussed what happened. We did the cross a second, third and forth time still collecting data. Students cheered when we got a long-tailed white cat and we laughed when occasionally a shoe or a panda tile would pop up because we had accidentally put the tile in upside down. We joked that cats could have a long-tailed panda baby or a brown shoe.

After the fun with the Zingo! game, my students dove into other Punnett squares with enthusiasm and asked to use the Zinger to make other games related to pea plants and roses. They used information from our text book and pretended to mate a Wyandotte rooster with a Brahamas hen, each time pulling the Zingo tile dispenser back and forth to expose the gamete possibilities. They even wanted to use the Zinger to make a vocabulary matching game. To my surprise, dihybrid cross and heterozygous were included in their list.

The game was passed around and the sound of the Zinger clicking back and forth became the sound of learning. I was thrilled. I had taught them a complicated topic in genetics and they actually enjoyed it. They were not moaning or staring at me like I was speaking Chinese. Happily, their test scored improved, too. I felt successful and I loved that a game made for 4 or 5 year olds could teach my high school students a complicated genetics topic.

IMG 1204web 300x225 Genetics... with a Zing!

Knowing I needed more games, I contacted ThinkFun, and they kindly donated six Zingo games to my classroom. I spent the summer modifying each game into our Mendelian genetics game – Genetics with a Zing! and I even changed some of the tiles into a vocabulary bingo games. There are 72 tiles in each game which is plenty to use for a variety of activities. I can’t wait to hear the click-click, click-click of the ZInger in my classroom. Zingo! is synonymous with learning in my biology classroom and it has really ignited the minds of my students. See, play is not just for preschool or first grade. My 17 year old students can play and learn at the same time.

Here are the directions of what I did to modify the game and a few fun photos of the game in action.

I used this information to do a cross in which a short tail (S) is dominant to a long tail (s) and brown hair (B) is dominant to white (w). The cross became SsBb x SsBb.

Next, I created 8-SB tiles, 8-Sb, 8-sB, and 8-sb by using my label maker and sticking the labels onto the backs of 32 to the tiles. I shuffled the tiles and placed them into the Zinger with the genetics sides facing up making sure half of the tiles are on one side and half are on the other. I pulled the Zinger back to reveal two tiles. I recorded what the offspring would look like remembering to convert the letter code into a type of cat. For example, ssBB is a long-tailed, brown cat. I did this 16 times total and recorded what the animal would look like each time. I then tallied the results which prompted more questions like: What is the most common looking cat? Can those cats have a long-tailed, white kitten? Did I get the 9:3:3:1 ratio that Mendel predicted? Why or why not? What is probability?

Have you ever modified a favorite game to use for a different purpose? To teach or explain something? Please share you story!

 

Create your Own Family Zingo!

I love hearing from creative fans who take a game and make it their own!  The photo below comes from the Subity family, who, after hours of fun playing Zingo!, decided to personalize the game and create a family version called… SUBINGO!  Here Caleb’s dad Sam describes their creation…

 

I’m attaching a picture of my son, Caleb, with the “Subingo!” game, which is our twist on Zingo.  After we’d played Zingo for hours, I realized that we could use the same format to teach our kids new words and concepts.  So we came up with Subingo to help them learn the names of everyone in our large family.  

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Caleb shows off his "Subingo" board!

 I just put a family member’s photo in each square and then printed and laminated the playing cards, then we printed sheets of everyone’s photos to use as the tiles.  Since we can’t use the launcher with the paper tiles, we just put all the tiles in a pile upside down and then do a speed version where we all start flipping over tiles and try to fill up our cards first!

 

Have you ever customized a favorite game?  I’d love to hear about it!

Build Early Reading Skills through Play!

The following post is shared by Malia, a former teacher and founder of the early literacy company Playdough to Plato!  Malia reached out to ThinkFun after finding our games to be fantastic language tools, and she was eager to share them with her readers!  In this post she shares her experience with Zingo! and What’s GNU?

Small Logo Banner Build Early Reading Skills through Play!

Several weeks ago, my boys and I had a play date with one of my supermom friends and her children. I casually mentioned how excited I was to start playing games together when the children were a little bit older. Sportsmanship, perseverance, teamwork… There were so many healthy life skills that games help develop.

 

As soon as the words “kid-friendly games” left my mouth, my friend jumped up and walked over to a large shelf filled with activities for her children. She took down a medium-sized royal blue box and asked, “Have you played Zingo!?”

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“No,” I said. I’d never even heard of it before. Hmm…  My curiosity was piqued.

 

Just as my friend placed the box on the table, her four year old son noticed the flash of blue out of the corner of his eye.  “Zingo!” he shouted as he ran over to join us.

 

My friend opened the box and pulled out a bright red thingy-majig and a set of game boards filled with pictures and matching labels.

 

“The rules are simple,” she explained. “It’s just like Bingo but with a twist.  It motivates children to practice reading. I promise it’s addictively fun.”  It sounded like a dream come true. But I was still skeptical. Could it really live up to her rave reviews? Zingo Collage1 Build Early Reading Skills through Play!

We invited her 2.5 year old daughter and my 2.5 year old son to join us. This would be a great test. Could young children actually play the game on their own? To my surprise, her daughter jumped right in.  “I LOVE Zingo!” she said. I mentally added another tally to the list of Zingo Fan Club members.

 

My friend invited my son to slide the red tile dispenser forward and back, revealing two bright yellow tiles: an owl and a bat. She asked him to “read” the words on the tiles. “Owl and bat,” he said. Then she asked him to look at his game card and check for matches. He had an owl. “Owl!” he shouted.

 

“I have an owl too,” the little girl said. My friend explained that the first player to say the name of their match could take it. She invited my son to grab the tile and add it to his board. Then he slid the dispenser again dropping two new tiles.

 

The game continued for several minutes until my friend’s four year old son filled his board first. He was crowned as the official winner, creating a perfect opportunity for us to model how to be good losers and offer a heartfelt “congratulations”.

 

Without a second thought, the three children jumped right into playing round two.  As parents of 2.5 year olds understand, there are few things that occupy my son’s attention for more than a minute and a half. I was blown away!!

 

The moment my boys fell asleep that night I hopped onto the computer and ordered our own Zingo set.  We could finally enjoy a family game night!

 

In addition to Zingo, ThinkFun also offers another early literacy game called “What’s Gnu” that I couldn’t resist adding to our Amazon cart.  To play, you spread out cards showing two letters and a blank.  One player slides the tile dispenser to drop two tiles.

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Players must race to use the letters that are revealed to make a word on one of the cards.

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The player who has made the most  words when the tiles run out wins the game.  I can’t wait to try this with my oldest son in a year or two. It’s a motivating, entertaining way to practice sounding out words and is PERFECT for beginning readers.

Must Love Dogs (And We Do!)

Last summer, ThinkFun received the following email from an inquisitive – and very perceptive – 4 1/2 year old fan:

Hello,

My name is Ariela. I am 4 1/2 years old. I was wondering why the dog on the Zingo box cover is sad? I would like the dog to be happy and winning the Zingo game. I think you don’t like dogs.

Sincerely, Ariela

Zingo 7700 BoxShot 235x300 Must Love Dogs (And We Do!)

No one likes to lose, and this pup seems to be taking it extra hard!

We were alarmed to think that our fans (both human and fur-covered) may find our illustration upsetting, because in truth no one loves playful pets as much as we do!

Stenz 4801 LoResSpill Stand 300x300 Must Love Dogs (And We Do!)

In fact, we just released our newest dog-themed Stenzzles brainteaser!  Last week, I introduced the canine models who inspired the game in this post and created a fun album featuring all different doggies with their favorite ThinkFun games!  Here are a few of the stars:

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Solitaire Chess gives Cargo a headache!

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Aren't my legs longer than this?!

And finally, to clear up any lingering doubt, we hope Ariella and our other young fans check out the Zingo! 1-2-3 packaging, featuring the same game-loving pooch with a much happier expression!

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A tail-wagging good time!

I would love to see YOUR furry friends playing their favorite games (of the ThinkFun or tennis ball/stick variety!).  Please send your photos to info@thinkfun.com, and I’ll add to our collection!

ThinkFun Games Engage Every Type of Learner!

The following post is shared by Sarah Baumgarten, a 2nd grade teacher at Birchview Dunes Elementary School in Wasaga Beach, Ontario.

 

I was introduced to the ThinkFun games in September 2007, and I was “hooked” on the games the first time I played them! I found them challenging and fun. I was a little skeptical as to how my “very active” grade two class would be able to focus on the games for long periods of time. I was envisioning pieces being thrown or lost with a few fights mixed in between. I introduced the games to my class at the end of September with a demonstration session in which my students learned four of the six games. I was absolutely amazed at how much they loved the games and how engaged they were. Nothing was thrown or lost and we only a few well placed arguments with the Zingo game.

 ThinkFun Games Engage Every Type of Learner!

I have one little angel who usually needs more attention than others. He was able to play all the games without any prompting and was engaged for a full 40 minutes. The games allowed me the time to play and become involved with other children who may not always need me.

 

We have continued to use the four games once a month. However they wish they could play them everyday. My students are now being “lent” out to teach other teachers how to play the games and hopefully they will get as much out of them as we have!

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!

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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 : )

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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A River Crossing face-off!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 New Game for Rudolph!

Heading up social media for ThinkFun is most fun around the holidays, when the world has toys on the brain and our fans are eagerly waiting to give or unwrap our latest games!  This holiday tweet from a mom in Florida made me laugh out loud – and shows that even our youngest fans have game-fever this season!

@kristawillim tweets:

My 4yo sings a verse of “Rudolph” like this:

“They never let poor Rudolph, join in any reindeer games… Like Zingo!!!”

rudolph 300x202 A New Game for Rudolph!“Up for a quick game of Zingo?!”

 Catchy huh?! 

Wishing you and your family a holiday season filled with peace, happiness, and most importantly – FUN!

Family Game Night… with a Zing!

The following guest post is shared by Sarah Hill, the mom behind the Raising Redheads blog which features her three adorable children.  Last year in a post called Zingo! Monday, Sarah featured video of her youngest daughter Gemma naming Zingo images rapid fire.  Here she shares more on how the Hill family continues to make game play an important part of their lives!

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Usually, when our family plays games, our youngest child Gemma takes a relatively passive role, scooping up whatever discarded tiles/cards/miscellanea we aren’t using. At two and a half, that’s all we could really expect from her. Or so I thought.

A few months ago, as we sat around the table playing Zingo, I tuned into Gemma’s little voice shouting, “Dog!” or “Panda!” or “Stinky Foot!” (It’s actually just a foot, but I suppose in our family, every foot is a stinky foot) She wasn’t just parroting what Ainsleigh age 8 and Donovan age 5 were saying – she was recognizing the tiles! So for the next round, we gave her a card after I went through all 9 objects and verified that, yes, she knew them all.

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Then we turned her loose. As proud as I was that Gemma was actually playing with us, I was even prouder of the other two kids. See, they love seeing Gemma succeed even more than winning themselves (well, most of the time). They would pause before claiming a tile in case Gemma had it. Not always, but often. And then all clap and squeal right along with her as she filled her card. A part of me wonders if we’re setting Gemma up for disappointment later on in life when she realizes the world does not, in fact, revolve around her. But we’ll worry about that when we get there, I guess.

Gemma went to bed that night positively giddy. The encouragement from the other kids made my heart swell with love for these little people of mine. I know they won’t always defer to her, but it was pretty wonderful to witness. It’s important for us to encourage each other as we’re learning new things. The challenges will come all too soon. For now, it’s Family Night and Zingo.

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We have since added several more ThinkFun games to our evening repertoire (because after a hundred rounds of Zingo, you need something to mix it up!) and two of Gemma’s current favorites are “Snack Attack” and “Bug Trails.” Both require a little more assistance on our part, but since Gemma is now only 3, it’s understandable. My goal is to set her up to be a game master, and I think we’re well on our way. Thanks, ThinkFun, for making Family Night even better!

A Speech Therapist Builds Language Skills Using Zingo!

I am thrilled to share the following guest post by Kelly Rholes.  Kelly is a fabulous Speech Therapist who integrates game play into her practice to engage young players and make learning fun and meaningful!  Here she shares creative ways to use ThinkFun’s Zingo! game to target a range of different learning needs:

Zingo 300x300 A Speech Therapist Builds Language Skills Using Zingo!

If working on verb tense:

Have the child pull 2 or 3 chips at random and put them in a line. Then the child must create a story in using all past, present, or future tense verbs. For example, if the child grabs a foot, sock and tree and the target tense is using past tense verbs, he could say, “Yesterday I put my sock on my foot, and then I kicked a tree.” Of course, he can make up any sentence, and the sillier the better!

If working on temporal, conditional, or basic directions:

When cleaning up the game, give the child directions for putting the chips back in the slider. Some examples:
Temporal Direction: Put the cake in after you put in the yo-yo.
Conditional Direction: If I put in a T-rex, you put in a tree.
Conditional w/ negation: Don’t put in a foot, unless I put in a shoe.

If working on final consonant deletion:

Many of these chips have words ending in /p/, /t/, /k/, and /g/.  I usually play this game with my children who have final consonant deletion as a phonological processing disorder persisting after 3 years of age. I have the child name the chip or put the word of the chip in a simple sentence. He can also ask, “Do you have a ____?”

If working on memory:

1. Show the child a certain number of chips on a table. Then, have him close his eyes and take one away. Then, the child opens his eyes and and states which chip is missing.

2. Show the child a certain number of chips, asking him to look only. Then, have the child engage in a different task for a certain number of minutes (depending on your goal). After your time is up, begin showing the chips (with a few new ones added) one at a time to the child asking him is he saw the picture earlier.

3. Have a selected chip out for the child. Tell the child that you want him to name as many things he can think of that … in one minute. Turn the timer over to start the time and write down his answers. For example, if you choose hamburger, ask him to name as many other foods he can think of in 1 minute. Or, if you choose apple, have him name as many things that are red 1 one minute.

If working on categories:

1. Lay three chips out in front of the child (two of which belong to the same category– 2 animals, 1 food) and have him state which chip doesn’t belong and why.

2. Lay half or all of the chips out in front of the child (depending on skill level) and have him separate them into categories. If the child needs support, write category titles on separate pieces of paper so the child knows what to look for (i.e. food, animal, transportation, etc).

If working on prepositions:

Have the child grab a chip from a pile. Then give him directions telling him where to place the chip. For example, you can say, “Place the ice cream under the chair.” You can increase the number of directions, as well. For example, “Place the horse on the table then touch your nose.”

If working on functions of objects:

Lay out a certain number of chips (they can related or not depending on difficulty level) on the table. Tell the child, “Hand me the one that flies.” Choose the function you are looking for and ask the child to have you the object that serves that function.

If working on phonological awareness:

Have the child grab a chip from a pile. When he looks at it, ask him to name the chip. Then he must think of another word that starts with the same letter/sound, ends with the same letter/sound, or rhymes with the word.

If working on reading:

Determine your child’s reading level. Write simple sentences on sentence strips (or whatever your heart desires) leaving a blank where a noun should be. Have the child grab a chip  from a pile and a sentence strip. The child must place the chip in the blank (or noun) spot and then read the sentence. Again, the sillier the better!

If working on comparing/contrasting:

Have the child grab two chips from a group of scattered chips  laying face down. He must then name one thing similar about the objects on the chip and one thing different (or whatever your goal is for the child).

If working on sentence structure:

Choose a carrier phrase, and write it on a sentence strip. For example, “I see a _____”, or “This is a _____”. Scatter the chips around. Have the child choose a chip and place it in the blank spot of the sentence strip. Then have him read or say the sentence. You can have multiple types of sentences and the child can also choose a sentence strip when choosing a chip. You can also have the child ask questions while playing the game, such as, “Do you have a _____?”

Of course, this game is great for reinforcing activities. The child can perform a task, then slide the slider one or two times. Taking turns while mastering goals.

Do you have other suggestions for creative ways to use Zingo! to exercise specific skills?  Please share in the comments below!

ThinkFun in Peru!

We love seeing photos of students all over the world playing ThinkFun games!
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Our fantastic Peruvian distributor recently shared photos from two local events.  First is a professional development training to help educators use games in the classroom, the rest are from a preschool that gave students Zingo! games as holiday gifts!