One of the hardest things about having an academically gift child is finding toys and games that are still age appropriate and keep Malone engaged. Malone loves to play games in his age range, but a lot of time those games are just fluff to him.
When this review came up for ThinkFun games, I was stoked. They were very generous and sent us their two hot new games for this year- Gravity Maze and Robot Turtles. While both of these games are ones that any child could play, they both provide a level beyond basic play- perfect for the kid who needs an additional level of play to be challenged with! All opinions are my own.
Background: Gravity Maze is logic puzzle and marble run all in one. It builds visual perception and reasoning skills. It is designed for solo play and recommended for ages 8 and up. There are a series of challenge cards with the puzzle on one side and the answer on the other. The player’s goal is to get the marble from point a to point b by adding the towers shown on the card to the grid.
What we loved: Because there are so many levels to get through this is a great game to challenge your academically gifted child with. Malone is only five but adores Gravity Maze. He is able to complete the beginner card puzzles without looking at the answers on the back. There are other times when he moves on to the higher level cards and uses the solution side like a map to build the mazes.
When he plays I hear things like:
I predict this isn’t going to work because it doesn’t seem like the holes are lined up. Or my hypothesis is that this ball is going to go through the blue cube and fall into the red one.
My husband loves working on the expert cards and I enjoy working on some of the more advanced puzzles with Malone.
I love Gravity Maze because it is hard! I like working playing the map way (using the solution side of the card like a map) and I like playing the regular way too. “
Gravity Maze is a game I can see us pulling out and playing with our grandchildren some day. It is designed for 8+ but if you’ve got a younger child who loves puzzles and mazes, they’ll adore this. The marble stays self contained in the grid and the translucent pieces snap in nicely. It says it is designed for solo play, but siblings or friends could easily work together to solve the challenges.
Background: Robot Turtles is the most backed board game in Kickstarter history. Children as young as 3 or 4 years old can play the most basic level and adults have fun with the most advanced ways to play. It was invented by Dan Shapiro who believes “learning to code is a gift we can give our children.”
Robot Turtles teaches kids to be great problem solvers, which is at the core of learning to code. Through play, they learn how to break one big problem into small steps, to think ahead, to work backwards, to look for patterns and to keep trying to fix their “bugs.” Playing is a lot like coding because:
- When a child lays down her cards, she is writing code.
- When a child rearranges his cards to fix what didn’t work, he is debugging.
- When a child discusses her strategy, she is commenting her code.
- When a child asks a parent to move the Turtle, he is running a program.
- When a child plays a Function Frog, she is executing a subroutine or a function.”
What we loved: Malone picked up the concept of Robot Turtles very quickly. We’ve played it several times since receiving it, but haven’t gotten through all of the different unlockable levels. Because the board game is open ended, every time we play it can be different. It isn’t a linear game where you must get from path a to path b the same way every time. Additionally after Malone makes his first set of code to capture the jewel, we can go back through and think of other codes he could have written to accomplish his goal.
Over Thanksgiving, we spent a lot of time playing Robot Turtles with Malone’s cousin Andrew who is almost five. Andrew loved Robot Turtles so much that he may or may not be getting it for Christmas too. Hint… he totally is.
I like playing Robot Turtles because it is kind of like a maze. I like thinking about which path would be the best one for my guy to move and then playing my cards to get him there. I also like that when me and Andrew play, we can each work on our own moves and there is no winner. If I play a game where there is a winner, I hate it when he beats me!”
Robot Turtles would be a great addition to your board game collection. It is especially wonderful to play if you’ve got an age range of kids or if you’ve got an academically gifted child you’re trying to keep engaged and challenged. If your child is on the younger side, you’ll want to open the box and familiarize yourself with how to play before pulling it out for the first time to play with your kid. It is very easy to learn, but it took me a few minutes to pick up on how to play and how to teach Malone to play.”
The fabulous folks from ThinkFun have are letting me give away either Gravity Maze or Robot Turtles (winner’s choice)! To enter, use the widget below.