Category: Outstanding Organizations

Blue Orange sponsors Maths in Jeans: a rich experience for passionate middle school students!

Blue Orange sponsors Maths in Jeans: a rich experience for passionate middle school students!

image_miniAt Blue Orange, we love to create partnerships that directly benefit children while also promoting the value of play. A few months ago, Math in Jeans reached out to us looking for games for their Treasure Hunt activity, and for downtime play during their annual event. We were happy to say yes and to sponsor the Maths in Jeans conference hosted by the French school in San Francisco (LFSF). During this 3 days event, 270 middle and high school students, 34 teachers and 6 researchers and doctorate students gathered in the beautiful city by the Bay.

Sponsor hard work 2

Maths in Jeans is a project that aims to connect middle and high school students to the world of mathematical research. It is carried out by an association that has existed for hard work30 years. Back in September, researchers gave Maths in Jeans nearly 50 research topics. Students from 10 French schools in North America and Singapore, chose a topic and worked on it for 6 months. Groups of students working on the same research were matched across schools to promote exchange and discovery. The groups presented their research to all the students during the event.

Matthieu Schavsinski, one of the Math teachers leading the organization, explains the benefits of the event and all the work going into it before the presentations: ‘’For our students, it’s a unique learning experience. This project is a way to learn about the research process, to experience collaboration with peers, overcome difficulties and find solutions when we are faced by very large problem we have to solve. It’s also the opportunity to show them how math relates to real life. For example, they work on modeling traffic jams, how to organize flights in an airport, or also how to identify the shortest road to link 4 cities anywhere on a map.’’

A treasure hunt was organized to help students discover the area around the school, the perfect team-building activity. A selection of brainy Blue Orange games were set-up as challenges: racing to complete a Dr. Eureka or a Dr. Beaker challenge for example were part of the hunt! Each team was made of 10 students of different ages and backgrounds and a chaperon. The best team was rewarded with board games and calculators!

During the breaks, students had access to more Blue Orange games and we were told they loved the diversion from math to games.

We are glad this event was a big success!

If you are interested by the organization Maths in Jeans, please contact Matthieu Schavsinskimschavsinski@lelycee.org.

If you organize an event for which Blue Orange could be a key partner by providing games, do not hesitate to present your project by emailing marketing@blueorangegames.com.

Dr. Beaker Challenge!

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Congratulations to Red Balloon Toy Store in Utah for Winning June’s Store of the Month

Congratulations to Red Balloon Toy Store in Utah for Winning June’s Store of the Month

Check them out in any of their four locations.
Check them out in any of their four locations.

With the summer days here and our ASTRA Marketplace Convention wrapping up, it’s time to show our appreciation to our awesome retailers for June’s Store of the Month. Without further ado, congratulations to Red Balloon Toy Store in Utah for winning Store of the Month! It is little wonder our sales rep Nicholas chose Red Balloon Toy Store. They are one of our best customers and they have a grand selection of game and toys. The Red Balloon really got its start when its original owners were looking around for a toy and found the store was going out of business. As it’s described, the couple went to the store to buy a toy and left buying a business. Now the store is owned by Yamil and Sue Castillo and has expanded to a total of four locations (Salt Lake City, Sandy, Logan, and Provo).

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David Castillo, VP of the Red Balloon

I got a chance to speak with the Vice President of the store, David Castillo. While Yamil and Sue Castillo are the co-presidents of the store, David says he has a lot of “hats to wear.” He manages staffing, buys games, works in human resources, and generally straightens out any kinks or problems the stores might be having. While he admits Vice President can be an exhausting job, he enjoys promoting and believes in his stores’ games and toys. He knows that while sometimes technology is necessary, it can still deprive a child of high quality play, and he believes in his product’s ability to provide and encourage that necessary play.

Besides the high quality toys and games, David takes pride in the business’s staff. Red Balloon holds high standards for their shops’ employees and is very selective about who they staff in order to maintain high customer service. He says that everyone on the Red Balloon staff, from the youngest high schooler to the experienced mom, brings something new and great to Red Balloon’s table.

Drop by and say hi!
Drop by and say hi!

David keeps the business’s high quality service by holding a meeting each year to decide that year’s goals. This year, in addition to optimizing how they manage the inventory with their stores, the Red Balloon staff has come up with an effective way to explain their games: GAL. The acronym describes how the employees should explain the game to the customer. G stands for the goals of the game, A stands for how to accomplish those goals, and L stands for what the employee personally likes about the game. It’s a very effective means to get key points of a game across to inquiring customers. One of David’s favorite things about Blue Orange is how we take ownership of our games and send sales reps like Nicholas out to show retailers the games. David tries to mimic this with his staff by holding monthly game nights to teach the employees the games and give them a chance to play so they can learn what they enjoy about the game and relay that to the customers.

Red Balloon Staff
Red Balloon Staff

 

Red Balloon Toy Store could have disappeared, but with a fantastic stroke of luck it has blossomed into a buzzing local business with four store locations. This month we toast Yamil, Sue, and David Castillo for their hard work in continuing to make their shops great. Take some time to stop by at one of their stores to give them a warm congratulations or check out the Red Balloon website. Congratulations again to Red Balloon Toy Store for winning Store of the Month for June. We hope your store continues to exceed its high quality standards for products and customer service.

Congratulations!
Congratulations!
Congratulations! Launching Success in Bellingham, Washington is our May Store of the Month

Congratulations! Launching Success in Bellingham, Washington is our May Store of the Month

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Visit them at 133 Prince Avenue in Bellingham, WA

The Store of the Month for this month is (drumroll!) Launching Success Learning Store in Bellingham, Washington! This store was nominated by our sales manager Xavier for their contagious enthusiasm for our games.

In my chat with Jen, the co-store owner, I learned that Launching Success Learning Store was originally started 13 years ago by Sandy and Bob Hiorns, and Barbara and Dan Sanford, a group of retired educators who noticed that there were no stores that sold teaching supplies in their area. They started the store to provide supplies to educators. Two years ago they passed store ownership onto their employees Jen and Kristen. Both have been working excellently in advancing the store to new and great heights.

Jen
Jen Zimmermann, co-owner of Launching Success

In 2006, the store upgraded to a 5,600 square foot space. This was a large jump for the small business. Jen mentioned that new time customers still come in with a look of surprise and awe at the sight of the stores size and selection. After this big move, the owners had the space to add a section for educational games. As developed in our previous blog post, “Identity Through Play,” children source of development and self-discovery is play. Jen and Kristen understand this and continue to make it the basis for all their games. Since its conception, Launching Success has become a store more dedicated to joining education with fun.

Kristen
Kristen Krumdiack, co-owner of Launching Success

According to Jen, the most rewarding aspect of being a store owner is the help and encouragement she receives from the companies that support small local businesses. She’s thrilled to work with Blue Orange, and she enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for games with our sales representatives every time they visit. She remembers first seeing Blue Orange crew at a convention. She was most stricken by their enthusiasm for the Blue Orange Games and how that passion showed even through their end-of-the-day exhaustion. She was happy to share her own enthusiasm for the games and encourage them in that last part of the day. Since that day, Jen has been thrilled to meet with Xavier about each  year’s upcoming games.

Store of the Month AwardDuring our discussion of favorite games, Jen mentioned that she enjoys games that are quick to explain with rules flexible enough to allow for other variations. For this reason, she enjoys most of the tin games including Fast Flip and King’s Gold. She’s also thrilled with Dr. Eureka for its simple rule set. She adores the preschool and wooden games and found Froggie Boogie particularly lovable with its adorable story of baby frogs trying to avoid bedtime. “Every kid can relate to that,” she told me.

Jen advises that any future store owner be open to what is out there. She mentioned that she keeps in touch with what’s out there through the Good Toy Group. Besides being open to opportunities for new toys, Jen emphasized the importance of also “follow your gut.” Trends are tricky to catch so it’s important for a store owner to see everything that’s available. However, there’s also a level of intuition involved in choosing toys appropriate for a store.

StoreoftheMonth_HiResGo visit Launching Success Learning Store yourself or check out their website. The Blue Orange Team is proud of Jen, Kristen, and all of their employees. Congratulations! Keep up your fantastic passion for games and fun!

 

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!

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.

Why Play is Important in Child Development

Why Play is Important in Child Development

image001 Parents want to give the best opportunities to their children. Music lessons, language lessons, extra tutoring, after school learning programs, the list can go on and on. We all want to give our kids the advantages and opportunities to succeed and/or perhaps we didn’t have as children. All of those activities are wonderful opportunities. However, play sometimes gets a bad reputation as being frivolous. On the contrary, play is very important in child development! If you want to learn more, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development (read here). Play can reduce stress and anxiety for kids AND adults so make some time to get silly! The National Lekotek Center , a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs through the utilization of toys and play. They have 20 wonderful reasons to encourage play for ALL Children.

Top 20 Reasons to Encourage Play for ALL children

  1. Play advances many cognitive skills like learning to focus and paying attention to details.
  2. Play produces an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind that benefits a child greatly.
  3. Play opportunities help a child develop problem-solving, organizational and planning skills.
  4. Play promotes both long-term and short-term memory.
  5. Play stimulates language, negotiation and communication skills.
  6. Play teaches a child how the world works from gravity to how things move, float or fly.
  7. Play experiences allow a child to explore symbolic play, imitation and his own creativity.
  8. Play allows a child to build confidence, one trip down a slide or throw of a ball at a time.
  9. Play provides the feedback a child needs to develop self-knowledge and self-esteem.
  10. Play is an excellent way for a child to connect to nature and to explore its many facets.
  11. Active play can enhance a child’s mood, coping abilities and defuse emotionally charged events.
  12. Play teaches the cornerstones of relationship building, cooperation and compromise.
  13. Leadership along with group skills are learned through team or collective play.
  14. Active play promotes a healthy body for children and lowers their risk of obesity.
  15. Play promotes brain development through the use of both the body and mind.
  16. Play can teach a child the lessons of strengthening and balancing his body and coordinating his hands and eyes.
  17. Play stimulates resiliency by prompting the child to try again and learn patience towards self and others.
  18. Play fosters courage to swing higher and jump farther.
  19. Play teaches empathy by allowing a child to explore the role of both winner and loser.
  20. Play leads to engagement and enjoyment that provides a child with both physical and emotional release.

LEKOTEK_National-Affiliates-opaq

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint by Planting Trees and Helping Small Scale Farmers

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint by Planting Trees and Helping Small Scale Farmers

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

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Every year members of our sales team pack up their vans and head out across the country to visit current and prospective stores. While we take pride in this unique aspect of our company, we are also aware of the impact that multiple cross country trips in a van has on the environment.

What exactly is the impact? Well, for example, it is emitting 67 tons of CO2 just in the year, 2014. That is the reason that we have teamed up with the outstanding organization, the Pur Projet to reduce our carbon footprint as a company.

Certificate BLUE ORANGE (2015-04-16)  (AH-PE-14407)

The Pur Projet organization has a vision to change the world, “Our mission is to integrate social and environmental innovations to the heart of business and corporate activities, to regenerate, revitalize and preserve the ecosystems we depend upon.” With that said, Pur Projet believes that their partnered organizations have ‘Pur(e)’ intentions to better the social and environmental issues that exists on our planet. The organization provides native trees for the reforestation on small producers’ cocoa plantations in the Amazon.

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

Pur Projet says it right! By giving back to the environment that gives companies, like Blue Orange, the resources to produce the products that are sold, is only fair. Pur Projet goes on to say, “By integrating these concerns within their sectors and activities, Pur Projet partner organizations offer a vision and means that lead to concrete projects to improve social and environmental activities and products.” Trees are planted following agroforestry systems improving the yield of cocoa trees while preserving soil and water quality and protecting biodiversity.

Since 2000, 952,000 miles were driven by Blue Orange, releasing 370 tons of CO2, which means that 1,110 trees have been planted to date. This past year, 2014, Blue Orange vans drove 152,000 miles consuming 10 liters/100 km of gas producing 67 tons of CO2 emissions. This means that 201 trees were planted in 2014 to offset our carbon footprint! When a tree has reached it’s level of maturity, it will take 14 years for the tree to offset one year of 67 tons of CO2 emissions.Not only does this help to shrink our carbon stamp and to fight against global warming, but there are also co-benefits with social and environmental issues.

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne

The Pur Project shares that, “Small-scale farmers and their families account for 4.2 billion people or two-thirds of the world’s population. They can, if supported financially, fight efficiently against climate change by applying agroforestry models that incorporate trees to their existing crops.” As a result, 1,500 farmers cultivate Fair Trade and Organic certified cocoa to increase and diversify their earnings. While planting trees reduces carbon footprint and global warming, giving work opportunities to small-scale farmers makes the Pur Projet a win-win organization!

In 2014, our 201 trees have been planted by farmer, Elias Villacorta, in a forest area of Peru. The type of tree depends on the location and the square footage, but the type of tree planted could be a Caoba or Capirona tree.

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We are so proud to be able to reduce our carbon footprint as a company, but even prouder to do so with a world changing organization with Pur(e) Intentions, such as Pur Projet.We understand the need to work towards the preservation of our planet. We believe it’s important to take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our business and to share our passion for sustainability.

For more information, visit: www.purprojet.com
How to get involved: http://purprojet.com/en/how-to-get-involved

Photo Credit Christian Lamontagne
All photos are credited to: Christian Lamontagne