Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thinking (and fun) games for kids

Since the school holidays are approaching, I'll be writing more about leisure activities and less on school work (I'll probably have plenty to post about those during term time!) Today, I want to recommend some fun games for kids, in case you're wondering what they can do during the long vacation without having their brain completely disintegrate by the time school re-opens.

This game is not very new - it's been on the market for a while, but I think it's worth highlighting because of its entertainment and educational value. It's called Rush Hour by Thinkfun. Its objective is simple - basically, get the red car out of the gridlock using problem-solving and sequential-thinking skills (now you know why I like it! Yet another puzzle!) You set up the traffic as provided on a card and try to slide the vehicles around until you can get the red car out.

This game has won a whole string of awards - it's ingenious because it's visually interesting and easy to play, yet it makes you think. A set comes with a deck of 40 cards in increasing difficulty. Rush Hour is so popular that the makers created refill cards that you can buy if you finish the original 40. You can play all 40 of the original cards online, but I do recommend you buy the actual game because it's just more fun to physically move the cars around. Plus you don't really want your kids glued to the computer any more than they already are, right? It comes in a handy box that can be easily packed away and it can be played alone (great when you need your kid to entertain himself for a bit!)

Thinkfun has created some really intelligent games for kids that are simply terrific. We've since bought some others, including River Crossing (left) and Tipover (right). You can find them at any department store.













But my kids' (and my) favourite is still Rush Hour. The original and the best!

26 comments:

Lilian said...

Thanks for reminding me; the boys played with this when we were in London, but I've not seen it since we moved here last year. I'll probably go crazy tomorrow rummaging through their mess for it. You're right, great game.

breve1970 said...

Hi Monica

Try gamewright games too http://www.gamewright.com. They have a wide variety of memory and strategy games that are very enjoyable. We like Rat-a-tat-cat (its a memory game) the most.

Check it out. You can get them at a shop at United Square, can't remember whats the name now (will check out for you) or go to the Pharmacy at Camden Medical (yes, a pharmacy?!). They have quite an extensive collection there.

Anonymous said...

These are fun and challenging games but a little too individualistic. Go for games like Blokus and Gemlock where skills are pitted against one another. My two older boys love them but unfortunately No.2 always loses and would burst into tears (even though each time before we play he would promise he would not cry if he loses). So sometimes it would just be me and No. 1, each taking 2 sets to play making it more challenging.

There is a shop at the basement in Anchor Point that stocks all these unique board games (not your usual Monopoly and Risk), as well as card games. I think Blokus at the moment is out of stock but you can play it online. Go on, try it. It's lots of fun and can be additive.

MD

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah..at the blokus website you can compete against other players worldwide online...but both my son and myself find it not so challenging
as we always win..why? because we are sneaky, cunning, and wicked! haha...

MD

monlim said...

Thanks all! I'll check out your recommendations, they sound terrific.

MD: call me a cop-out but a reason I like Rush Hour is because the kids can play by themselves! Aiyoh, everytime my 2 kids play something together, one will end up crying (like yours) or throwing a tantrum...

Anonymous said...

aiyah..even my 2nd boy when he played by himself, he can still cry or throw into tantrum when he couldn't get it right, or the computer wins..so no diff.

MD

monlim said...

Hahaha, that's so true! You should have seen Andre when he lost the Wii game to the computer, he looked like he was going to smash the tv!

Anonymous said...

Unlike Andre who is happy go-lucky, my 2nd boy displays the classic middle-child syndrome. He is also the artistic one, meaning he's temperamental, sensitive and emotional.

Thanks goodness the school has dropped the position thingy in the report book for P1 to P3 (not sure about P4 onwards), so he can't compare it with his older brother. But he still make it to the top class like his brother. He is always trying to be as good as his older brother, and at the same time making sure he must be better than the younger one.

MD

monlim said...

Reminds me of one of Andre's classmates - probably the brightest boy in the class but always trying to keep up with his older brother who is in GEP and head prefect. He's also a middle child.

It must be tough to manage but it's great that your 2nd one is so motivated! I always feel that it's the hard work that will get you further, eventually.

Anonymous said...

My kid also plays rush hour and when we get into traffic jams, she will ask me without fail, "Mommy, can you try to move the cars like "rush hour"? " *rolled my eyes*


qx

monlim said...

QX: bwahahaha! Well, maybe you can tell her "sorry, like rush hour, the cars cannot move sideways, so we're stuck..."

Anonymous said...

My children used to attend this enrichment centre called Logica at Katong Mall but it has since closed down due to lack of manpower (teachers). Basically they were taught, one-on-one, skills that involve IQ thinking, mapping, etc with worksheets for the first 45 minutes. The next 45 minutes is game time (which was the actual reason why my children looked forward to the class).

The games that they had were all Mensa-select types. Blokus, which I mentioned earlier, Pentago, Pillars of Plato, Pylos, Quoridor and Khet. Sounds unfamiliar, right? But a whole lot of fun.

Take Khet - it's something like chess. You have your Pharoah, and pieces with one-sided, two-sided mirrors or no mirrors at all. And you got to move and shift your pieces such that when you press your own button, a laser will shoot out and bounce off the pieces, and the objective is to kill your opponent's pharoah with your laser. It really teaches the children on reflection and lines of symmetry.

Or Quoridor - a mouse and cheese blocking game where my youngest knows how to play and enjoys it too.

I saw Quoridor and Pylos in some shops like Nurture Craft (but quite ex) but not Khet or those other titles. Wonder whether there will be a market for all these...hmmm

MD

monlim said...

MD: Here's an idea - market the games as coaching for GEP. Sure sell out one, haha!! Remember me when you become a millionaire, ok?

All the games sound really interesting but quite cheem (I dislike chess, cannot wrap my head around the strategies...)

Anonymous said...

Aiyah scarly it has the same fate as Logica and I will be crying like those minibond investors, haha.

Those games are not cheem. My 2nd boy who was then 7/8 really enjoyed them. It was the only enrichment class he looked forward to, and the reason why he never complained going to Tien Hsia because Logica was right after it. :)

MD

Anonymous said...

Hmm.... about your GEP idea, I know I will call my shop "Games Einstein Plays" Haha, with extra bold and highlights on the capital letters, sure cannot miss the connection.

MD

monlim said...

"Games Einstein Plays" - hahahaha!! I LOVE it! You can also Guarantee Exams Pass, in particular, Great English Performance. In case too subtle LOL!

Lilian said...

"Those games are not cheem."

Maybe not cheem to you and your boys lah MD...

I'm with Monica, only like games that keep the kids engrossed with NO participation required from Mummy! Those are the best.

A couple of trips back, we were in United Square and there was a shop that sold some board games, supposed to boost IQ ones lah. Brian begged me to buy him one, aiyoh, 1) So expensive 2) Takes up luggage space 3) he'll probably beg me to play with him...so I had to pull him away from the shop and firmly said no.

Alcovelet said...

Hysterical, Games Einstein Play, hahaha! It IS shocking that a company with a spiel like that can fail in a place like Singapore. Monica, for this would-be company, can you write a nice blurb as a advertising teaser? Classes are sure to sell out like that!

monlim said...

Lilian: high 5! Games that require mummy to play are low on priority list. Playing scrabble as a family already sometimes can make me tear my hair out.

Ad: Ey, we should all come together and form a centre. MD can work out the challenging curriculum, I write all the fancy advertising copy, Ad and Cindy, (sorry you've got to teach, someone has to do it!) And Lilian? Well, she can just place her 2 kids outside the centre as real-life geniuses to endorse the centre. Bwahahaha!!

Lilian said...

Hilarious!

Wahhhhhh (wailing wahhh, not wahlau wahhh), surely I have a better role to play than that?!! Feel like big failure man!

monlim said...

I know, you can be the big-shot marketing director, do stuff like work out commission with Popular to sell Murderous Maths!!

Lilian said...

Murderous Singapore Maths, written by Monica Lim, Model-Mum Extraordinaire...

monlim said...

Hah, so pai seh... you mean Monica Lim, Murderous Mum...

Alcovelet said...

You two ah! But can we negotiate my role? You guys run the place, I run the funds, hehe. How about that? Sorry I'm leaving you to manage on your own, Cindy, but you can do it!

monlim said...

Can can, we need a good fund manager!

Anonymous said...

Great games for all the recommendation! Now, my kids are into board games, like monopoly & scrabble. As usual, the older one must let the younger one win, otherwise......


Chris

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