Blue Orange Games Blog
Eco Friendly Games Support the San Francisco Bay

Eco Friendly Games Support the San Francisco Bay

Eco friendly games to support Save The BayAs a company, we are always looking for ways to develop our green initiatives and help families choose eco friendly games.  So we’re thrilled to announce our recent partnership with Save The Bay, the largest organization working to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay. We have agreed to donate a portion of our wholesale revenues in the Bay Area to the organization’s efforts.

Play to save the SF Bay

With hundreds of accounts in the Bay Area and strong relationships with our local retailers, this initiative promises to benefit the local environment as well as community members, who are provided with an easy way to do their part to support a healthy San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife. We recognize that the Bay is central to our economy and quality of life here in the Bay Area, and it feels good to know that our company and customers can help in a small, albeit important way.

Every purchase will contribute to the funding Maker of eco friendly games partners with Save The Bayof Save The Bay’s efforts. This means supporting the restoration of natural habitats, protecting the Bay from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development, securing policies to re-establish 100,000 acres of vital wetlands, and educating future generations on how to be Bay stewards.

Blue Orange Games Headquarters is located literally at the edge of the Bay, on the last road before you hit the docks in the Dogpatch district of San Francisco. It’s something we see every day and appreciate for reasons both personal and civic. The company founders, Julien and Thierry actually first discussed the idea of starting a game company while sailing on the Bay.

We are also excited to band together as a company for a volunteer day to work on a restoration project with Save The Bay in a couple of months. We’ll be sure to share some pictures when we do!

Inspiring others to give back

We hope our recent commitment inspires others to set aside time a few times a year to do something to support their local community and environment. Participate in a beach or park cleanup, start a neighborhood vegetable garden, petition your kids’ school to adopt Meatless Mondays, or participate in a race/walk for your favorite cause. Email community(at)blueorangegames(dot)com a picture of you or your kids giving back and we’ll send you a surprise thank you gift.

How to find our eco friendly games

If you’re in a Whole Foods or toy store in the Bay Area, look for the Save The Bay stickers on our games. Use our store locator to find a Blue Orange retailer in your town. And check this out, the organization’s logo is blue and orange! The match was meant to be.

 

Teach Good Sportsmanship to Kids

Teach Good Sportsmanship to Kids

Unfortunately, It’s Not Always Fun and Games…

Losing a game can be a difficult, frustrating experience for a young child. It can turn a previously enjoyable experience into a discouraging disappointment, making them not want to play again. Learning to cope with disappointment is a valuable life lesson, and developing good sportsmanship is an important part of a child’s maturation. In order to help your young ‘un lose with grace and composure, we recommend you try the following ideas.

games teach good sportsmanship
Don’t try this at home!

Cooperative Games

Not all games call for a winner and a loser, some are more collaborative in nature — encouraging cooperation and teamwork skills rather than competition. These types of Cooperative Games have seen a recent surge in popularity because they teach the types of collaborative life skills that players need to succeed in the adult world. Games like Zimbbos and Tell Tale are great examples of how cooperative games encourage players to work as a team instead of as separate entities.

Games teach good sportsmanship

Change the Rules

Here at Blue Orange Games, we encourage players to make up their own variations on our rules. If you are playing with someone who doesn’t like to lose, try taking out the timed nature of the game. For example, in Speedeebee, instead of racing to answer, just wait for everyone to come up with their answer — then have players answer in order of age, with the youngest player going first (or vice versa, depending on the game/players). This removes the frustration of not being as fast as other players, and creates a more relaxed playspace, where the emphasis is on participation (not competition).

Challenge Yourself (Not Others)

Point based games like 20 Express or Sumoku are super versatile because they can be played competitively against other players, or just against yourself. If you are interested in playing without singling out a loser, just have players aim to improve their own previous scores, rather than beat the scores of others. This way, players still retain a sense of competition and engagement, but none of the frustration of losing to others.

Teach Good Sportsmanship by Example

Lose by example! The best way to help a loss-averse young-un, is to show them they can still have fun while losing. Purposefully lose a game (or two) and show your child that you are still having fun. Exaggerate and play it up! Be sure to compliment their winning performance while making fun of your own. Showing them that you are still having fun while losing will help them understand that winning isn’t the only way you can enjoy playing a game.

Family Game Night in 3 Easy Steps

Family Game Night in 3 Easy Steps

Family game night can be a great way for your family to bond and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.  If you schedule it for after dinner, it will give your family something to discuss while eating (and avoid the dreaded “nothing” response to “What did you do at school today?”). Games are a great way to foster communication; a relaxed, fun atmosphere makes the chit chat come naturally.

Here are three easy steps to organize your own family game night that works for your family.

1. Pick a night that works for everyone’s schedule.

Schedule a Family Game NightYou don’t want the kids distracted my school or an upcoming play date, and you don’t want mom n dad to be distracted by a looming work project. I recommend either Friday or Sunday night. In my experience these days have the best success because people are either looking forward to an entire weekend of fun, or have finished up the weekend fun and are feeling relaxed. Whatever day works for your family’s individual schedule, make sure to stick to it. Ritual and routine are important. It will give your family something to look forward to every week or month.

2. Create your own house rules

It’s important to make your family’s game night feel personal. Make up your own variations on games.  Or if you’re feeling ambitious, make up your own original games. I also recommend playing so that each night has a winner and a loser. You can reward the the winner with a special dessert or treat, and make the loser do the dishes. Losing can be frustrating, but it is also a great opportunity for your young one to learn about sportsmanship.

3. Award good sportsmanship

Family Game Night AwardGame night is the perfect opportunity for kids to learn about good sportsmanship. Every night make sure to recognize and compliment the person who showed the best sportsmanship. Give that player a special award (and I recommend it be better than the first place award). Make sure not to reward the first place person twice, but don’t hesitate to give the best sportsmanship award to last place. Maybe that player can pick the next game(s) for the next game night.  Or maybe they get out of a particularly dreaded household chore. Whatever you choose as the reward, make sure to place the most importance on having fun, not winning the game.

Invite friends and neighbors to your Family Game Night

Once you have an established game night that everyone enjoys and looks forward to, invite your children’s friends and their families to join in. Games are a great way to get to know the people important in others in your family. Important to your family’s daily lives.

And be sure to share your successes on our Facebook page, we would love to join in on the fun!

Family Game Night with Blue Orange Games

Ideas and Recipes for a Healthy Halloween

Ideas and Recipes for a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, but don’t let the sugar filled holiday treats scare you!

If you’re planning on throwing a monster mash bash for your little goblins, surprise your kids and guests with these fun and creative healthy alternatives to candy treats!

Check out these spooky and spirited foods that are as fun to make as they are to eat. Have the whole family help to make these Franken-foods in your laboratory (or kitchen) and have a happy and healthy Halloween!

1. Bone Appétit Appetizer: 

Grab your kids’ favorite veggies and make a skeleton out of them!

 

healthy halloween catHalloweenVeggieSkeleton

View the Recipe

2. Green Goblin Smoothie

Make a tasty smoothie that will really scare the kids when they find out it’s made with spinach!

green-goblin-smoothie-2

View the Recipe

3. Smashing Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes

Seasonal sweet potato pumpkins with broccoli stems are too cute!

View the Recipe

4. Spooked out Strawberries

Surprise the guests with these ghostly strawberries!

strawberry halloween

View the Recipe

Rethink the Candy Bowl

And if you are interested in creating a healthier Halloween for the entire neighborhood, here are some suggestions for healthy Halloween treats to hand out to!

healthy treats

View full PDF

2013 Potrero Hill Festival

2013 Potrero Hill Festival

Blue Orange Games is delighted to announce we will be vending and playing our eco-friendly games at our local neighborhood festival. Come out and enjoy independent and local food vendors and chefs, artists, musician, children’s entertainment and more at this free, one of a kind community experience!

2013 Potrero Hill Festival

This year’s festival is a benefit for The NABE, which is the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House that has been in operation for over a century! The NABE offers a safe and common area where community members can educate, entertain and inspire.

2013 Potrero Hill Festival
2013 Potrero Hill Festival

The 24th Annual Potrero Hill Festival takes place on Saturday, October 19, 2013, 11:00 am -4:00 pm on 20th Street between Wisconsin and Missouri Streets. Experience the “flavor” of the Potrero community, featuring local food vendors and chefs, artists, musicians, historians, homegrown entertainment and much more! Join us for this one-of-a-kind community event for all ages! http://potrerofestival.com/

Improve Focus with Two Easy Tips

Improve Focus with Two Easy Tips

When we are kids, we are told that we can be anything we want to be as long as we put our minds to it. But realizing our dreams is no easy feat, it requires focusing on our goals with a clear and steady mind. It takes practice to improve focus and it’s an important lesson for kids and adults alike to learn. Just like your physical body needs exercise to stay healthy, your mind also needs exercise to train it to be more aware, mindful and focused. Unlocking and harnessing this control at a young age can set the foundations for a bountiful life whether in school, arts, sports or the workplace.

So how can you develop a more focused mind for you and your kids? Here are two suggestions for how to improve focus:

Practice breath meditation to improve focus

improve focus with meditation

Exercise: For 10-15 minutes (if this is too long for you or your child try 5 minutes and work your way up to longer increments of time.) Take deep breaths focusing only on the sensation at the tip of your nose or the sensation of your breath on your upper lip. These are places where you can physically feel your breath the best. Try your best to only focus on the sensation of your breath, and you will in turn calm your mind of all the other thoughts that often pour into our heads. Although your mind is bound to wander, try your best to notice when it does, and then refocus all your attention back to the sensation of your breath.

Benefits: Breathing is something we do without thinking, but spending 10-15 minutes (or more!) a day focusing on your breath has been proven to decrease stress and increase attention. Learning how to focus on something so simple as a self-regulated breathing opens up your entire pathway to motivation and focus. In a 2004 survey of mindfulness programs in schools by the Garrison Institute in New York, their report found that simply focusing on your breath can help prime a more positive learning environment. (For those athletes out there, consider the analogy that you should always warm up and stretch before you play a sport. Your brain needs time to warm up and focus for the day too!)

Playing games helps to improve focus

eco friendly wooden game Gobblet Gobblers

Benefits: Board games have also been proven to help develop focus in kids and adults. Engaging in in mindful play requires problem solving and stimulates brain development. It creates more neural connections which in turn benefits important brain functions like concentration, consistency and focus. Games like Spot it! promote a wide array of cognitive processes that help sharpen attention and focus, which can be particularly useful for the millions of kids who suffer from ADD & ADHD. The great thing about playing educational games weave important skill building exercises into fun play experiences.

As we learn more and more about the brain, science tells us how important it is to purposefully strengthen our minds throughout our lives. With technology’s constant chatter it is very important to periodically unplug our brains and let them settle. The hyperactive, over-stimulated lifestyles of modern society keep us running all day and night, so it’s important for our minds and bodies to take a break every once and a while and refocus on what is important in our lives.

Educational Games in the Classroom – Sumoku

Educational Games in the Classroom – Sumoku

Educational games can be great tools to get kids to exercise concepts and use their critical thinking skills while still having fun. Teachers know this (those smart cookies!) and will sometimes adapt existing games to their lesson plans or create a whole new game entirely. Just check out the games category on Teachers Pay Teachers for some awesome examples.

Not only do we focus on an all around fun experience, but we want our educational games to help improve cognitive functions and reinforce learning. This is why we love it when we hear from teachers who are fans of our games and use them with their students. But sometimes a game may not feel appropriate for a classroom setting, whether it’s due to noise level, lack of organization, or the addressing of lesson concepts. When using games as learning tools, we encourage teachers and parents to break the rules! With a little creativity, you can turn existing games into a classroom or homework activity that targets the lesson at hand.

Last year, we were fortunate to have  a teacher in Pennsylvania with over 20 years experience in elementary school education design lesson plans using our educational games. Since there are quite a few, we are going to continue this post as a series divided by game.

Educational Games We’ll Cover

  • Sumoku
  • Tell Tale
  • Speedeebee
  • Spot it!
  • Double Shutter
  • Dragon Face
  • Speedeebee
  • Pixy Cubes
  • Chickyboom
  • Pengoloo

First up, we have Sumoku!

math practive with educational games like Sumoku

Practicing Math with Sumoku

Sumoku is a crossword style mathematics game with 5 different ways to play included in the rules. In the basic version, players roll a die to get a key number. Players try to arrange the longest row or column of numbers that add up to a multiple of the key number, without repeating tile colors. The total of your tiles is your score for that turn. Sumoku is perfect for practicing multiplication but it can be used to teach younger kids too.

 

Grade Level Application:  2nd

Skills:  Math concepts, such as addition/subtraction fluency and skip counting, attention to detail

Suggested Lesson Plan

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Low

Practice Addition
Use a math worksheet with addition equations that have blank boxes to write in. Each student draws 4 tiles at a time to create 2 two-digit numbers. Using those numbers, they fill in the blank boxes to create an equation to solve. For example, if you pull tiles 3, 2, 4, 4 it could be 32+44=_ or other combinations of the 4 tiles.

Practice Subtraction
Use a math worksheet with subtraction equations that have blank boxes to write in. Each student draws 4 tiles at a time to create 2 two-digit numbers. Using those numbers, they fill in the blank boxes to create an equation to solve. For example, if you pull tiles 3, 2, 4, 4 it could be 44-32=_ or other combinations of the 4 tiles. This means the student must understand to put the larger number first.

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 2 per group
Noise level: Moderate to low

Practice Skip Counting
Have a draw pile on the table 1 bag per 2 students.  Then have them each race to be first to create a string of numbers skip counting 2 up to 20 or 3 up to 30.
(Zeros can be represented by flipping a tile over showing the blank side or using a similarly sized object such as a penny.)

Grade Level Application: 3rd

Skills:  Math concepts, such as addition/subtraction fluency, multiples, attention to detail

Suggested Lesson Plan

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Low

Practice Addition & Subtraction
Use a math worksheet with addition equations that have blank boxes to write in. Each student draws 6 tiles at a time to create 2 three-digit numbers. Using those numbers, they fill in the blank boxes to create an equation to solve. For example, if you pull tiles 3, 2, 1, 4, 4, 5 it could be 321+445=_ or other combinations of the 6 tiles.

You can do the same exercise with subtraction. For example, if you pull tiles 3, 2, 1, 4, 4, 5 it could be 445-321=_ or other combinations of the 6 tiles. This means the student must understand to put the larger number first.

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 2 per group
Noise level: Moderate to low

Practice Multiples
Have a draw pile on the table 1 bag per 2 students.  Then have them each race to be first to create a string of multiples of 3 up to 30 or 4 up to 40.

(Zeros can be represented by flipping a tile over showing the blank side or using a similarly sized object such as a penny.)

Grade Level Application:  4th

Skills:  Math concepts, such as multiples and multiplication

Suggested Lesson Plan

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 2 per group
Noise level: Moderate

Practice Multiples
Have the students create a draw pile of one tile of each digit from 2-9 and place them face down. The rest of the tiles are face up. Each student take one face down tile, flips it, and immediately begins building a string of 10 multiples.
(Zeros can be represented by flipping a tile over showing the blank side or using a similarly sized object such as a penny.)

Practice Multiplication
Use a math worksheet with multiplication equations that have blank boxes to write in. Each student draws 2 tiles at a time and then fills in the blank boxes to create an equation to solve. For example, if you pull a 3 and a 2 tile it would be 3×2=_.

Grade Level Application:  5th

Skills:  Math concepts, such as multiples, multiplication, division, and prime/composite numbers

Suggested Lesson Plan

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 2 per group
Noise level: Moderate

Practice Multiples
Have the students create a draw pile of one tile of each digit from 2-9 and place them face down. The rest of the tiles are face up. Each student take one face down tile, flips it, and immediately begins building a string of 10 multiples.
(Zeros can be represented by flipping a tile over showing the blank side or using a similarly sized object such as a penny.)

Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Moderate

Practice Multiplication
Use a math worksheet with multiplication equations that have blank boxes to write in. Each student draws 2 tiles at a time and then fills in the blank boxes to create an equation to solve. For example, if you pull a 3 and a 2 tile it would be 3×2=_.

Practice Division
Use a math worksheet with division equations that have blank boxes to write in. Each student draws 3 tiles at a time to create a one digit divisor and a two digit dividend and then fills in the blank boxes to solve for the quotient. For example, if you pull a 3, 4, and 8 tile it could be

34 / 8 =_.The quotient could be written as 4.25, 4 ¼, or 4 remainder 2.

Practice Prime/Composite
Each student draws 20 tiles. Have them sort the tiles by prime and composite numbers.