Monday, February 25, 2013

BlueOrange ya glad you found Spot It?

I am a sucker for good games.  A while ago a friend introduced me to Spot It! by BlueOrange.  If you like HyperSwipe by ThinkFun, you might like this card game in a can too!

Spot It! is a super easy and portable set of cards with multiple pictures on each.  There are many versions to play, but we are into the "Tower".  In this version, you want to end with the most amount of cards. So the center pile is face up and you each start with one.  You then have to quickly call out a picture that matches one of your own to the top card on the Tower Pile.  And so on, and so on.

It addresses form constancy, the ability to see a shape and recognize it even if it is smaller, bigger, or even upside down.  It also can build on vocabulary, articulation, turn taking (or not), visual scanning and attention.  Then throw in basic counting, more or less than concepts, and you have a secretly educational game.

I love it.  We can play it as a family.  It is super quick.  We have pulled it out after supper, before breakfast, and between errands.  Though targeted for 7 and up, Mudge who is now 5, has been able to play.  He might not be as quick but he can make quite the pile.  And the fact it is small and in a tin makes me even happier since the room of games is quite full.

There are 13 versions of Spot It! like sports, jr., travel, alphabet, and more.  You can find it on or at great little stores like BrainWaves in Narragansett, RI for around $10 and up depending on where you find it and which kind you pick up.  Try it out, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

ThinkFun-Analysis: The Math Dice Family

Yes, I am a gamer.

I love games.  I love educational games.  And unless I need quiet time, I really don't like the electronic ones.  They are like kid crack. Of course, if it is old school Mario on the 80s Nintendo (yes, we still have one), then that is a different story.

But I recently purchased some great games, including Math Dice and Math Dice Jr.
Boog is a mathematician.  He is great with numbers. He loves mental math so it is right up his alley.  Roll the dodecahedron dice, the ones with 12 sides and multiply the numbers.  Then roll the other three standard dice and come up with equations that match.  In any way, shape or form. Add, subtract, multiply, divide, exponents, etc...
This can be awesome for game nights for dorky adults, me included as well as homework enhancers, classroom stations or events.  I was even blessed with receiving the Math Dice Tournament Kit from ThinkFun for free to try out.  It has enough dice sets and games for 16-18 students. One of my 4th grade teachers said it reminded him of a game called 24 that he learned as a kid when he grew up in China.

But I couldn't leave out Mudge. So I picked up the Math Dice Jr. too.  And even though he is a new 5 year old, he picked up on the basic adding and subtraction, with some assistance.   It was fun and they wanted to play multiple rounds, which is a testament to the game.  I did ask ThinkFun if they have or will have a classroom tournament kit for the Jr. version too, because this would be a great center addition! Still waiting to hear....

Math Dice is rated for 8 and up.
Math Dice Jr. is rated 6 and up.
Math Dice Tournament kit is targeted 5th grade and up.

There are different ways you can adapt it.  First, use paper and pencil. Take turns. Teach calculator skills. Use teams.  Keep score.  Or Don't.  You know your kids, your students, and yourself.  Grade and challenge the games based on your ability, versus your age.  It is a great way to keep your mind multiplying its neural pathways :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

ThinkFun-alysis: Swish Jr!

I love getting new games to try.  A few weeks ago, Think Fun asked if they could send me a new game to test out (for free).  Swish Jr.  And I thought to myself, how would or could they improve on it and make it easier for the younger crew....

They did.  And did it well.
Swish Jr. is the little brother of Swish, the see-through visual perceptual card game.  I love this game on many levels.  It can be easily modified by approach/turn taking and builds on great thinking skills.  Both Mudge and Boog are able to play it, so I was actually suprized about ThinkFun creating a junior version.  But when I received it in the mail and opened the package I saw the key differences.
First, the cards are larger and there are fewer of them.  Second, the shapes "swish" together are no longer balls and hoops; they are now distinctly different shapes and colors like arrows, flowers, leaves and circles.  The reason for that is so the smaller kiddos can more quickly and independently identify whether or not there is a swish-able match.  Before, the balls and hoops version required more attention to detail and visual discrimination skills.  The other thing ThinkFun did was that the shapes and colors  on the cards are always in the same place, so there are predictable swishes.
The game is still very portable and comes with its little carry pack and instructions. It is still quite engaging for kids of all ages.  Both my 7 and 4 year old had no problem diving into the game. 
Overall, if you want to get little ones thinking outside the box, and inside shapes pick up Swish Jr.  It is rated for 5 and up, and the original big brother version is 8 and up.  My boys are typical kiddos (I say this biting my tongue) and they were both able to play the older version.  So look at your kids needs and abilities before purchasing.  Don't forget, this game is fun, competitive, and addictive.  Adults like playing too. So you may just want to suck it up and get both :).