Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ThinkFunAnalysis: Shapeometry

During Sandy's visit to the northeast, the boys and I passed the time with games, including another I received from ThinkFun: Shapeometry.

Geared towards second to eighth graders, Shapeometry is a spatial game that comes with a set of blue and green 'Tetris-like' shape tiles as well as a problem solving card deck. Each challenge builds in complexity, and I have to admit that it provided a challenge to me as well.

This mathematical match up activity can played a few different ways. As a single person, which I did at first to test my reasoning, the goal is to follow the cards that tell you to make the same overall shape with two different sets of blocks. It starts fairly easy, which I am glad to say I was able to do. Then it gets a little harder as you work your way through intermediate, advanced and expert.

As a family, we put our brains aged 4 to 33 to work, getting to card 19, which is in the intermediate section.  By that time, we had played for about a half hour and our brains were getting fried. But it was fun. We could work together, problem solve and build spatial reasoning.

I also had a group of 4th and 5th graders try it out.  They had varying abilities, some had strengths in math, others in social skills, and yet others in language. After demonstrating the basic idea of the game, they went to work. In about 20 minutes, the students had teamed up one set taking care of blue, the other took green.  They were able to configure through challenge #9.  When asked what they thought about it, the general consensus what that it was hard but they wanted to see if they could get farther in the challenges.

To modify the game, we built on top of one set.  I even considered placing a piece of paper on top of one set to see the "whole" from its parts.  As part of a math center, you could set out the challenge cards that fit the needs and abilities of the children.  ThinkFun went as far as to provide skill alignment to the Common Core Standards to help justify the use of the game within the classroom.

This game is challenging and therefore can be frustrating.  But if used to support a math curriculum or center, or as a game in an arsenal of family fun, Shapeometry can definitely shape youngsters' (and adults') minds to think outside the box.


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