As a teacher, I always have my eyes open for games that I can use as rewards or challenges for kids that finish their work early. Having experience in both early childhood classrooms as well as early elementary classrooms, I chose a game for each of these developmental ages. On top of that, I picked games that appealed to me because over the course of my career, I’ve found that if something appeals to me, students usually enjoy it, too.
For the early education classroom (Pre-K through 2nd) I chose Educational Insights Robot Face Race. The premise is simple with few rules to memorize. Using an innovative alternative to dice, students shake a small box (see video below) that allows them to select colored robot facial features. Students then scavenge the game board looking for a robot face that matches the rolled features. The first person to find the correct robot, places their token on that robot. The first person out of tokens is the winner.
It is excellent for memory recall and discerning fine details. As an adult, it’s a challenge for me and many times I’ve found my students are actually better than me at these games! This would be excellent for a small circle time in preschool, choice time in kindergarten, or even an early finisher reward in later grades.
As an adult, another detail I liked about this game was that it felt like it was built out of quality materials. There is nothing like holding a sheet of instructions made out of nice paper that would hold up over decades of use. Additionally, the game board was flawless and the pieces were made out of a heavy durable cardboard that barring a daring adventure into a child’s mouth, would hold up against time.
I highly recommend this product as a gift for early childhood and elementary school teachers or parents with young children.
For the elementary classroom through 100 years +, I chose Educational Insights Kanoodle Genius. Kanoodle is my new favorite pastime. Waiting for the noodles to boil? Kanoodle it! A long conversation on the phone? Kanoodle it! Husband is taking too much time getting ready to go out? Kanoodle it!
Although I chose this game as a supplement for my classroom, I will have a really hard time letting it leave my living room. I am secretly a tangram* addict. After completing all my tangrams I felt listless and lost until I got Kanoodle Genius. Now while my television is occupied by boring shows or I have a moment between grading papers, I can relax with a game of Kanoodle. Though admittedly they’re like potato chips; you can’t play just once, I usually end up wasting up to an hour playing through puzzle after puzzle.
This game is great because it helps to develop spatial awareness and problem solving skills. In South Korea, a huge part of our early childhood math curriculum focused on tangrams. I feel that Kanoodle and Kanoodle Genius have very similar properties to tangrams and I am eager to incorporate them into my math hour. I like Kanoodle and Kanoodle Genius because both games have different arrangements in their shapes offering more opportunities for different puzzles and thinking in different ways.
If I had a set of Kanoodle games for my whole class, I would definitely warm up my math session with 5 minutes of Kanoodle every day. As it stands, I think it’s an excellent tool I could use in small groups to get kids to think creatively and problem solve together, and it is definitely a tool early finishers can pull out to work on after they finish their math.
The interesting thing about Kanoodle Genius was that it has not only a traditional 2D puzzle, but also a 3D puzzle which is challenging in a whole new way. Although I figured out the basic puzzle, it definitely challenged me to think not only about angles and sides, but the shape as a whole piece and how it could be stacked with others to make a pyramid. This aspect of the game makes it even more engaging for older learners though for a 3rd grade class it might prove challenging.
I love this product and it is affordable and compact. It can be taken on car trips, into classrooms, or just played with in the living room. It feels well-made and comes with a wealth of puzzles for you to work through.
I recommend this product for teachers, students, and regular citizens alike.
*Tangrams are an ancient Chinese 7 piece geometric puzzle