Category: Education

Four Outstanding Educational Games for Kids

Four Outstanding Educational Games for Kids

At Blue Orange, we emphasis the importance of high quality learning through play. Oftentimes kids have so much fun playing games, they don’t even realize they are learning! All it takes is the right game to spark your child’s interest; here are but a few to pack in their backpack for this school season.

Doodle Quest

In Doodle Quest the players draw paths and shapes on a clear sheet according to the instructions of the picture in front of them. Then the players place the clear sheet over the picture to test how accurate their lines are to the image. Because it utilizes this form of spatial understanding, Doodle Quest is rated 5 out of 5 stars on Mindprint Learning. Reviewers on Mindprint Learning have acclaimed Doodle Quest a “unique drawing game that will help students develop visual-spatial skills.” Reviewers also loved how the game has an incremental level system, which makes it easier to find the right difficulty for each player.

Rally Up!

In this game, players try to call out themes for cards that belong to the same “family” or category. For this reason Rally Up! is often remarked as a clever way to practice categorization and language organization in young children. In 2015 this game was award the PAL (Play Advances Language) Award for it’s innovative methods of promoting language in young children. The awards are directed by Sherry Artemenko, a children’s speech therapist of 35 years, who recognizes games that “through their design, content, quality, and character, promote play that advances language.”

Tell Tale

Tell Tale is comprised of 60 illustrated cards to inspire players to create stories to tell to friends and family. Because of its cooperative and creative play style, teachers have found that Tell Tale is an excellent game in developing creative expression and communication skills. Fat Brain Toys reviewers have given Tell Tale 4.43 stars out of 5. Fat Brain Toys is a site dedicated to showing and supporting “quality, open-ended toys, games, and gifts that entertain AND educate.” They, like us, believe that toys should stimulate and inspire educational and developmental skills. Their reviewers feel the same. One teacher raved about how Tell Tale has been a “huge hit” in Speech and Language therapy.

Super Genius

Super Genius is hands down the best educational game for any growing and learning child. With 8 games to choose from for multiple subjects and skill levels, Super Genius was developed alongside learning professions. The game engages young learners through a unique formula in which the players spot the matching answer between two types of cards. The game is so effective in teaching children, the Global Educator Institute (GEI) has awarded it the Seal of Endorsement. The GEI sends teaching tools to teachers in classrooms for reviews. This allows real educators to give feedback on innovative, educational products in a real classroom setting. The reviewing teachers called Super Genius “an asset to any educational institution” and “really fun for kids”. Sam Blanco also uses Super Genius to teach autistic children reading and math. She says, “I particularly love the reading decks because many of my students with autism read fluently but struggle with comprehension. This game offers a simple way to practice comprehension.”

At Blue Orange, it is our goal to develop games that inspire child development through fun and engaging ways that the whole family can enjoy. Give these games a try and tell us what you think!

Blue Orange brings Games to Camps all over the Bay Area

Blue Orange brings Games to Camps all over the Bay Area

This summer you sent your kids to summer camps, and I got the pleasure of joining some of them!

Every year when school is out Blue Orange visits camps around the Bay Area for “play days”. Its our way of giving a little something back to the community, and we love exposing kids to screen-less wonder that can be found in a board game.

Let’s break down how it all went:

1,000 kids +15 camps+ over 40 games donated – a few lost game pieces = A sucessful program and one happy intern!

The play days happened at camps all over the Bay Area, in cities like Danville, Mill Valley, Oakland, Berkeley and in Blue Orange’s very own San Francisco. Kids ages 4 to 13 got the chance to play our newest games, as well as some old favorites, at camps that ranged in size from 10 to 350 (!) kids.

For me this was such an amazing opportunity, as I got to see the joy that Blue Orange’s games bring first hand. To watch kids of different ages, (and their counselors!) interact with each other and have fun together gave me such a new perspective on the impact that something as simple as a board game can have.

Check out some snapshots I took during some of my camp visits below!

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Me and my trusty game box- it went to all the camps with me this summer!

 

Campers in Moraga play Fast Flip, Fastrack and Doodle Quest.

 

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Campers in Danville play Gobblet Gobblers, Battle Sheep, Niya and Fastrack.

 

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4 campers enjoy a game of Braverats!

 

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Blue Orange’s Marketing Manager came out to one of the camps to help out. Here she is playing Dr. Eureka with campers in SF’s Sunset District.

 

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The other marketing intern joined me for the SF sunset camp as well!
Global Educator Institute has awarded Super Genius it’s Seal of Endorsement

Global Educator Institute has awarded Super Genius it’s Seal of Endorsement

GEI LogoSuper Genius has just earned the Global Educator Institute (GEI) Seal of Endorsement! This Seal of Endorsement is an outstanding honor for Blue Orange. We are thrilled to be recognized and supported by an organization so passionate about classroom education.

What is the GEI?

GEI is an organization of educators who joins with teachers and companies to review classroom products. GEI sends new education tools to teachers for them test in the classroom. If the item gets outstanding reviews it earns the GEI Seal of Endorsement! In doing this, teachers can better understand the product they are trying to buy.  It’s a great process that encourages innovative ways to educate future generations.

Playing Super GeniusWhat it means to win the Seal of Endorsement

The Seal of Endorsement places Super Genius among the best tools used in a classroom. It has passed the reviewers tests with flying colors, proving to be an educational hit in the classroom. As GEI puts it, products awarded the Seal of Endorsement are “the best-designed, most effective classroom products in the world.” We are very honored to be recognized by this highly esteemed organization.

Testimonials from the GEI Reviewers

“Super Genius would be an asset to any educational institution.”
— Cherie K., DE, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

“I would recommend this to anyone that has struggling students and limited time. There is a lot of self-checking that the children can do. Super Genius increases independence, awareness, and confidence.”
— Lisa W., NC, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

Super Genius Collection“I loved using these in my classroom! My students couldn’t get enough of them — a product that is helping students learn and making them eager to play.”
— Erika B., MI, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

“There are so many interactive games and ways to use these tools to review and teach basic fact fluency as well as high frequency and new vocabulary words. The Super Genius games are colorful, sturdy, and more current and fun than basic flashcards. Knowing this, I would definitely buy these if I saw them in a store.”
— Laura G., OH, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

“Super Genius is worthy of the GEI Seal of Endorsement. This is a product that gets children of every level of reading engaged. Students lose inhibition when using it and begin to take learning risks they never would have before. They make an effort to keep trying and, therefore, are constantly increasing their growth mindset.”
— Lisa W., NC, GEI Reviewer and Teacher

Products bearing the GEI Seal of Endorsement have earned the distinction for improving learning and the learning environment. We look forward to bringing you more fun and educational games to help your Super Geniuses grow and learn!

Identity Through Play

Identity Through Play

[box]Blue Orange co-founder, Thierry Denoual, asked Sophie About, Clinical Psychologist, to offer some wisdom about how play impacts child development. About has spent ten years working with orphanages in Cambodia and has accumulated a significant amount of insight regarding healthy child development over that time period. She was generous to share that insight with Blue Orange in the article she sent us.[/box]

Sophie About“Children’s purpose is to play” -Henri Wallon

When Playing is Finding Identity

Playing is primarily a means for a child to relax and feel good. It allows small children to develop their imagination, their ability to concentrate, and the body language which comes before speech (facial expressions, gestures, body language and sensorial activities). Play is an important way in which a child builds their own identity. An infant can only play with an adult they have a trusted relationship with that goes beyond the basic care.

Indeed, in order to play well, children need to be surrounded by the close and physical presence of caring parents. It is also while playing that children construct their identity through role playing which enables more and more complex interactions with their community. Playing allows a child to measure up his/her abilities and feel confident.

Child Playing ZimbbosFrom 0 to 2 years old: children undergo a sensory-motor phase. During his first months of life, a child becomes aware of their body (especially hands and feet), as well as their close surroundings (movements, sounds, contacts with an object, encounter with adults). As the children grow, they progress from being horizontal to vertical through experimenting with a variety of movements and intermediate postures. A child will repeat something that happened accidentally if he enjoyed it. She learns to watch and feel her surroundings (objects, environment). She explores her skills and abilities. What used to be mere reflexes becomes deliberate actions, and thus starts a phase Jean Piaget named Object Permanence, which is when the child understands that an object still exists outside his field of vision (the “pickaboo” or “hide and seek”). This allows him to better handle separation since the child knows that his relatives exist, even if he cannot see them.

Around two years old: The symbolism phase, during which the child sorts out, orders and uses logic to solve specific problems. This is the time of cognitive development, intelligence and creativity.

Child Playing with ParentPlaying is a constructive activity:

  • Initiative and creativity=self-confidence
  • He improves his thinking while discovering
  • He starts interacting with other children and discovers social rules = sociability
  • The “power to act” and “power to experiment” brings satisfaction to the child, which helps him realize the extent of his competences “I did it by myself!”
  • Playing is an effective way to make the child feel safe when he lives in a stable environment and if the adult is concerned with his interests and emotions
  • Playing shows the way to ”identity” and self-discovery

 

 

Playing enables the child to explore multiple areas, such as:

  • expressing desires
  • expressing emotions
  • expressing thoughts
  • expressing wonders
  • Controlling anxiety
  • developing abilities
  • establishing social links
  • assimilating different sides of personality

By Sophie About: Clinical Psychologist. Coordinator for the Organization Parents First, working for and with parents with regards to parenting.

Should You Let Your Child Win?

Should You Let Your Child Win?

As the holiday season draws near, families often gravitate towards gameplay, favoring warm living rooms and the company of loved ones to the bitter chill of the winter months. Not wanting to be left out, little ones are often eager to join into the competitive melee. Yet, one questions always looms: should you let them win?

It seems unduly harsh to beat a small child at a game, yet the consensus is clear; experts say that you should not throw a game and let a child win if they are over four. When children hit four or five, they begin to hone a competitive edge and rely on adults and peers more heavily as role models for social behavior. When you beat a child at a game, you are not only teaching them how to lose, but also showing them how to win gracefully. We all know a child who celebrates over zealously at a win and rubs it in others faces. When that child begins to play with peers more often, this behavior quickly becomes unacceptable and often ostracizes the child from the group. When you beat a child at a game and end it with a sportsmanlike handshake, children then learn that this is the proper way to conduct themselves in the face of victory—with tact, poise, and respect for their opponents.

Children also need to learn how to lose gracefully. As a former summer camp counselor, I saw countless children who I would classify as “sore losers”. When they lost at a game of kickball or dodgeball, their first response was to throw the ball as far and as hard as they could, preventing other children from playing. This is the attitude displayed by a child who is always used to winning. When you beat a child at a game, it’s essential to nip this type of behavior in the bud. Asking questions like “why does losing make you so frustrated” and “why are you so upset” can start an open dialog about how to lose gracefully and what losing in daily life means.

While it is important for children to experience losing games, this does not mean parents and family members should use their entire adult strategic prowess to absolutely obliterate children during game play. Introducing handicap rules can help even the playing field and create competitive fun for all. For example, an extra rule in “Puzzle Battle” is that adults are only allowed to play with one hand.  Another option is to introduce luck based games. Games like “King’s Gold”, which is a push-your-luck dice game, or “Sushi Draft”, where players don’t know the value of tokens they win until after the game, are great because they give+ children a chance to win easily without adults having to force a win on the child’s behalf. Remember that gameplay isn’t just about winning, it’s about learning how to both win and lose in a constructive and healthy way.

Happy holidays from Blue Orange Games

Information and Tools for Educators

Information and Tools for Educators

As a mother to a school-aged child, I’m always on the look out for what would help my little boy at school. And with a child with special needs, you could say that I get hyper-focused on stuff like that. I’m amazed at what his teachers and therapists will recommend to better aid him in the classroom.

Kindergarten Classroom_3

I was so pleasantly surprised with a phone call from Katy at GlobalEducator Institute, a new organization looking to aid teachers in the classroom. They have a robust blog and are committed to providing information and tools for educators. In fact, they are looking for teachers to help pair them off with great products for review. Learn more about Global Educator Institute below.

 

 
geiGlobal Educator Institute— is a new organization with a mission of evaluating educational products and improving education. The goal is to pair great products with great teachers, who then test them with their students for at least six weeks and provide us with valuable feedback and recommendation. Teachers have a voice in determining which products are elevated to becoming endorsed and receive our GEI Seal of Endorsement.

If you are a teacher or know of anyone that is (pass along), it takes 5 minutes to sign up and create a confidential profile. To sign up to be a member, simply visit:  http://geiendorsed.com/how/teachers/

GEI will then start sending FREE product to evaluate for GEI.

Rocking Horse Toy Company is our October Store of the Month!

Rocking Horse Toy Company is our October Store of the Month!

At Blue Orange Games, we can’t take all the credit for our hot games! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fabulous retailers who give us feedback and put energy, passion, and time into their businesses every day. This space is dedicated to a very special retailer each month in order to highlight the stores and individuals that bring Blue Orange games from shelves into homes and that do us the honor of introducing us to families in their area. We are pleased to announce that our Retailer of the Month for October is none other than Rocking Horse Toy Co in Petoskey, MI!

rocking horse toy

Rocking Horse Toy Co started with…you guessed it…a rocking horse!

Owners, Andy and Kathleen Bultman, were originally elementary school teachers. They were on the quest to find their daughter, Sara, the perfect rocking horse for her 1st birthday. No rocking horse on the market fit the requirement. Thus Kathleen asked Andy to make one instead. Andy’s rocking horse creation created a stir and requests were made by the community for other wooden crafts. Andy later added homemade wooden toys to the inventory. The business expanded to other things such as toys and games and Andy eventually stopped making the wooden toys. 34 years later, there are 3 locations throughout Northern Michigan.

The Petoskey Location!
The Petoskey Location!

The buying season at Rocking Horse Toy Co is different from most stores. Whereas most stores experience huge sales in the 4th quarter holiday season, they have Christmas in July! Their store locations are primarily in resort areas so they experience a huge influx of vacationers looking for toys and games during the summer months.

Andy and Kathleen credit their success to their backgrounds as educators. They purchase toys and games they felt their customers could really benefit from and not just what is the most popular. They also take the time to train their employees. Arielle, is the buyer and general manager for Rocking Horse Toy Co and really makes sure their employees are well-trained to talk with the customers.

After 34 years, Andy still loves coming to work. He loves the change of seasons, the change of environments, and even the ups and downs. He still looks forward each year to attending the annual NYC Toy Fair and searching for new trends in toys and games. This love of toys and games definitely translate into their success!

Thank you  Rocking Horse Toy Co for all that you do for your community and for Blue Orange Games!