Monday, August 1, 2011

There is nothing like a game...

Nothing in the world.
There is nothing you can name
That is ANYTHING like a game!
(and don't try to convince me the lyrics are anything other than those)(name that musical)

Many moons ago, I was having a great day and posted about how I was kind of rocking this whole mothering thing. This is significant for two reasons: 1) It is a rare occurrence for the day to end and me to be satisfied with how it went, and 2) I mentioned the game Zingo!

The second part is what I'm going to address today because let me tell you WHAT HAPPENED NEXT:
Someone from ThinkFun (the makers of Zingo!) emailed me. I've had Zappos and...I can't remember who else...comment before after I've posted something and I'm both a bit flattered and a little spooked. But this was a legitimate person who struck up a conversation.

Fast forward to THIS moon and we are the featured family on ThinkFun's Parents page. And their blog. On top of that, they sent us some of their new games to play, requesting that we just review them on Amazon. FREE GAMES. And they are thinking (duh, it's in the name) games. I'm so totally in.

So, before I trot over to Amazon to post my (first ever) product reviews, I thought I'd just give you a little heads up. These are the games we got:

Math Dice: This can have a myriad of uses. It comes with a playing "board" (piece of fabric), but for our family we've been using it on a flash-math basis. The idea is that you roll the white dice and then toss the other die. Using the colored die, you have to either do subtraction or addition to equal the number on the white dice. With Ainsleigh and trying to work on her multiplication, we're more likely to have her give us products (if the white dice is a 7 and she has rolled a 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, she has to tell us 14, 21, 28, 49 and 77). With Donovan, it has been fun to see how his mind works. He'll figure out that 6+3+1=10, and then I'll ask if he can do it in fewer die and he'll immediately pull out the 4. It's something I'll pull out while they're eating breakfast and throw a few rounds before they're off for the day and I foresee it being a nice jumpstart to their school day. Also, it's a quiet game Donovan plays during church as long as we're on padded pews (shhh!).

Snack Attack!: This is a fun, fast-paced game that Gemma loves, even though they suggest 4 as the starting age. I didn't realize we needed to tell Gemma not to EAT the snack discs (sigh), but luckily only one fell victim. I suppose the chicken leg just looked too delicious. We do need to help Gemma since you not only take the discs that match up with your mat, but you then have to flip them over (revealing a new snack to match). Saying, "Flip!" throughout the game helps remind everyone of this. But we're getting better and the kids love to take turns twirling the handle around.

Bug Trails: The packaging likens this to dominoes, but since I've never actually played dominoes (I wasn't born in the 40s!), I'll take their word for it. What I do know is that you have a bunch of bugs and then you add on to the previous bug. How many new bugs you have to draw depends on how many joints (hands/feet) you connect. The more you connect, the fewer you have to take (even getting to discard one if you connect so many). You win when you have no more bugs. The kids took to this game far faster than I thought they would. Gemma was an observer but Donovan once again proved to have a pretty keen vision of how he needed to play his bugs to exhaust his pile. I think Ainsleigh ended up winning our first game, though, and Joel and I didn't have to help either kid. I love games that the kids can win without us letting them.

Tilt: Donovan was most excited to try this game, for the simple reason that it said, "Ages 8 and up." He was DETERMINED to play it. I was a little unsure of its appeal, seeing that it said it was for 1 player. First, let me say that while it says 1 player, the kids take turns, passing it back and forth. It comes with a stack of cards that illustrate how to set the game up, increasing in difficulty. You have to get the green discs in the middle hole without dropping the blue ones in. Also, you have to slide the pieces all the way to one side until they don't move any more, eliminating the option to work it in carefully (also eliminating the need for acute eye-hand coordination). Second, I'll admit right away that I just flipped over the top card and read the answer (a nice bonus to avoid complaints that "It's impossible!"). That was really all the instructions I needed. The kids enjoy trying it out, but I've got to say this is MY favorite game. I've always loved puzzles and tetris and logic, so this really appeals to me. It's a quiet game, and one that sets up and puts away easily. I recommend it especially for while you're on hold.

Overall, I love that each of the games (except Snack Attack) comes with its own little cinch-sack, so you get rid of the box it comes in. Joel would prefer that the packaging you dispose of be recyclable. Those plastic coated boxes aren't always accepted, and for those of us who recycle more than we actually throw away, it's always nice to use that option. Other than that, I don't have any complaints. I love that each of these games is different and makes us think (there's that word again) in different ways. I love how portable they are and how easy they are to clean up. Mostly, I love that they are games the kids ask to play, rather than the computer or the Wii.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have more levels of Tilt to pass off...


Allison said...

THAT musical would be Pappy's roadshow. "Nothing like a Dame" would be South Pacific. I like Pappy's version better.

We may have to give the games a try. While eating cheesecake. You know, because I hate games. And cheesecake.

laura said...

Dude, Ainsleigh would probably beat me at that math dice game.

Charlotte said...

MathDice Jr as a church game! Our marketing team needs to hang out with your redheads more - this is genius :) Thanks so much for sharing your family's feedback on these new games, and for your support of ThinkFun. We're thrilled to have your game-loving kiddos as our featured family!

Andrea said...

Ok I have to get in on this - my name is Andrea and I work with Charlotte - we so much appreciate how you and your kids have connected with our games....thank you! I love the concentration in their eyes while they are looking at Math Dice Jr - And - thank you for writing about our games - makes our day!

wanda said...

Joel is such an amazing photographer. He captures all of the action, excitement,and focus. That coupled with your writing abilities... a match made in heaven!

Jo said...

You know, your writing really IS remarkable. You totally deserve the attention and the free games!