Thursday, July 23, 2015

Schoolhouse Review: SimplyFun Math Games #hsreviews

Simply Fun Review
Okay, who doesn't want life to be SimplyFun?  If you can take math concepts and turn them into smiles, laughter, giggles, and strategy, don't you want to do so?  SimplyFun Math Games offers two different ways to increase math skills through play.  Shape Whiz is a geometry-based card game and Expanders is a fast-paced, think quick, game of addition that has you recalling math facts as quickly as you can.
Simply Fun Review
We are a game-playing family so I was excited to be chosen to review Expanders.  We enjoy card games and board games and word games together and I'm always looking for something new and different to add to our game cabinet.  I especially like to find games that make us THINK.  With technology at our fingertips that can help find anything we want or need with just the touch of a button or by a simple request of Siri, I am afraid that my children are simply forgetting how to THINK.  Many days I shake my head and wonder, "Have I not taught my kids to THINK?"    I'm seriously ready to cut the internet, drop the wi-fi, and spend our time this summer just talking and playing games and reading and making sure we THINK.  Can you relate?

Lucky for us, Expanders was the perfect fit.  A unique game -- from the feel and texture of the box (yes, I know I notice the strangest things, but this one is cool, y'all!) to the layout of the of the brightly colored game "board", Expanders grabs your interest and keeps it -- all while increasing your math skills and leading you to THINK and strategize in an effort to foil your opponents.  Pictured below, the game board looks like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill board game that comes directly out of the box and straight into action.  Not so!  As you know, looks can be deceiving and this "board" is actually a madly creative combination of parts.

Simply Fun Review

The colorful main frame is one piece, but the numbers inside are 6 different sections that can be placed in multiple combinations to keep play interesting and fresh. These numbered sections are double-sided cardboard pieces (1-8 on one side for simpler play, 1-12  except for the number 9 on the other side for more advanced play) so the combinations are endless.   That means, there's no memorizing the game board and cheating through the math.  Every time you sit down to play, the game changes and the race is on.  The player to first fill the board with their colorful pieces wins.  And at my house, everyone wants to WIN.

Expanders is designed for players ages 7 and up and teaches reverse addition, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking.  My 14- and 16-year-olds LOVE it.  Up to four people can play together with the brightly colored sets of plastic "expander" tokens and you can even play a solitaire version.  So how do you actually play this innovative new game?  I'm glad you asked.  Set up is super-easy and the only requirement is a basic knowledge of addition facts.  Based on the number of people who will be playing, numbered cards (called Circuit Boards) and/or blank fillers are placed inside the Main Frame.  Each player chooses their token color and play begins.  The first three moves require specific actions so that the board is ready for competition.  These are easily understood as explained in the rules and limit the number of tokens initially played.  Beginning with the fourth move, players use mathematical reasoning to strategically block their opponent's play and fill the Circuit Boards with their own expander tokens.  There is no longer a limit to the number of tokens allowed per move as players seek to find the most expanded math problem possible.  For example, you can choose to cover the numbers 8 and 2 to equal 10 (placing three tokens on the board) OR you could choose to cover the numbers 2, 4, 3, and 1 to equal 10 (placing 5 tokens on the board).  Since you are working to get rid of all of your tokens, it is better to expand the mathematical problem as much as you can.

As you can see, at my house it's all about the strategy of blocking each other from a play.  The math is simple, but winning takes much more than the ability to add numbers together.  My gang is serious when it comes to games and the Eagle Scout takes no prisoners.

       The Mastermind at work:                            He WINS by successfully cutting us off.

Only at my house is Expanders also a lesson in history and geography.   In a recent game, the Eagle Scout interrupted play to express his concern that I was about to beat him.  As he explained, this game board looked like the American opposition to Germany and he was under attack.  You've gotta love homeschooling!

My crew deems this game a winner.  We've had so much fun with Expanders that we can't wait to share it with our friends.  As a matter of fact, we'll be teaching children to play it next week at Camp ShadyRest -- a day camp we're leading with an art and science spin.  I know that math strategy is a necessary skill for success and we are pleased to share such a fun way to achieve it.  You can find out more about SimplyFun and all of the exciting products they offer by visiting the following Social Media sites:

Don't you think it's time to learn and connect through play?

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review SimplyFun as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of both Expanders and  Shape Whiz (or just click on the banner below.)

Simply Fun Review
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