Blue Orange Games Blog
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.

New Games Win 29 Awards

New Games Win 29 Awards

We were thrilled to have 7 new Blue Orange games recognized this year by trusted awards institutions and industry authorities.

These seals of approval help parents make more informed decisions when it comes to selecting the best media and playthings for their family. And with Christmas and Hanukkah just around the corner (yep, I said it, don’t hate me!), stumped holiday shoppers can consider these award winners as fool-proof choices for friends and family.

Among our notable winners is this summer’s release Spot it! Party, which took home Dr. Toy’s coveted 10 Best Games and The National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Seal. Our latest sustainably made wooden game, Keekee the Rocking Monkey earned Dr. Toy’s Best Green Product award and Nada received the Silver Seal from NAPPA.

We always feel extra special when Playonwords.com recognizes our games with the Play Advances Language award. Inherent skill building in our games is something that we aim for, so we were proud to have licensed speech-language pathologist Sherry Artemenko award Ooga Booga and Spot it! Basic English for their language learning value.

Here’s a complete round up of our winners including stand out quotes from the test reports. Click on the award institution to read the full report.

Ooga BoogaMemory game for kids

Dr. Toy
• Best Vacation Products Award 2013

Parents’ Choice Foundation
• Fun Stuff Award 2013

Playonwords.com
• Play Advances Language Award 2013
“Silly and engaging, this game is unlike any you have ever played.”

Tillywig Toy Awards
• Laugh Out Loud Award 2013
“This is the funniest party game we’ve seen in a very long time.”

Major Fun
• Party Award 2013

National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)
• Honors Award 2013

 

Spot It Sight Words Matching Game

Spot it! Basic English 

Playonwords.com
• Play Advances Language Award 2013
“This game is so fun kids might not even ‘spot’ the educational component!”

 

20 Express

Tillywig Toy Awards20 Express Numbers Bingo Game
• Top Fun Award 2013
“A delicious balance of skill and luck that keeps players coming back for fun, again and again.”

The National Parenting Center
• Seal of Approval 2013

National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)
• Honors Award 2013

Major Fun
• Party/Family/Kids Award 2013
“To have a game that is a great party game and a great solitaire game at the same time is something special.”

Dr. Toy
• Best Picks Award 2013

 

FlashFlash Fast Dice Game

Dr. Toy
• Best Vacation Products Award 2013

Dr. Toy
• Best Picks Award 2013

Parents’ Choice Foundation
• Fun Stuff Award 2013
“This is a keeper!”

Tillywig Toy Awards
• Best Family Fun Award 2013
“Fun doesn’t get any more rapid-fire than Flash.”

The National Parenting Center
• Seal of Approval 2013

 

NadaNada_Players_small

Dr. Toy
• Best Vacation Products Award 2013

Dr. Toy
• Best Picks Award 2013

Parents’ Choice Foundation
• Approved Award 2013
“Nada is pure fun, something that kids living in a complicated time can use.”

Tillywig Toy Awards
• Best Family Fun Award 2013
“As dice games go, this one has it all – speed, fun, excitement, and lots of dice.”

The National Parenting Center
• Seal of Approval 2013

National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)
• Silver Award 2013

 

Keekee the Rocking MonkeyWooden Balancing Game for Toddlers

Dr. Toy
• Best Green Product 2013

Parents’ Choice Foundation
• Approved Award 2013

Tillywig Toy Awards
• Brain Child Award 2013
“Preschoolers find the game exciting and stimulating, and its colorful, charmingly designed all-wood components add significantly to the fun.”

 

Spot it! PartySpotitParty_PlayerCatchTheHand_close

Tillywig Toy Awards
• Top Fun Award 2013
“This edge-of-your-seat fun is a blend of intense competition and silliness that makes for a rollicking good time.”

National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)
• Gold Award 2013

Dr. Toy
• 10 Best Games Award 2013

 

Spot It Game Rules: Secret New Ways to Play Unveiled

Spot It Game Rules: Secret New Ways to Play Unveiled

When developing Spot it! Party, the latest expanded edition of the popular Spot It game, we toyed around with many new game rules. Of course, several variations (or mini-games as they’re called in the Spot It rule booklet) didn’t make the final cut, despite being a blast to play. As a blog exclusive, we want to share the one that came the closest to print! It’s called Ducks In A Row, and you’ll need the card holders that come in Spot It Party to play.

We know that many Spot It fans come up with their own ways to play or twist the rules. We would love to hear your ideas for Spot It game rules and share them on the blog! Please email marketing(at)blueorangegames(dot)com with your family’s way to play. Alright, let’s play! Cooking at home is as popular as ever, especially with the introduction of all sorts of new technologies and tools that make your time in the kitchen better and more effective than ever. Portioning, preparing, or just making sure your meal is immaculately prepared on a day to day basis, now is possible with the best digital kitchen scales.

Spot it! Party Game Rules – Ducks In A Row 

1. Preparing the game:

Depending on the number of players, take either 4 holders or 8 holders.

2 – 4 players: 4 holders 5 – 8 players: 8 holders

Line up 4 holders facing the same direction in a horizontal row. If you are playing with 8 holders, line up the other 4 holders in a horizontal row behind the first row. Example:

Spot It Game Rules

When playing with one row, everyone sits side by side facing the holders. When playing with two rows, one group sits on one side of the holders and the other group sits opposite them. It is okay if the sides are uneven by one player. Shuffle the cards and insert one card into each holder with the symbol side facing the players. Deal four cards face-down to each player. Place the rest of the cards in the tin and set aside.

2. Object of the game:

To be the first player to get rid of all your cards.

3. Playing the game:

At the same time, players flip over their stack of cards. Players try to spot a symbol that appears both on their top card and any one of the 4 cards in the holders facing them. If you spot it, call it out (example: “Magnet!”) and place your card face-up in front of the matching holder card. If another player finds a match between that same holder card and their own card, they place it in front of your card. Always look for matches with holder cards, not the cards in a line in front of them. Important: The number of cards in front of a holder cannot exceed the number of players on a side. Example: If there are 3 players, you cannot place a 4th card in front of a holder, but must look to another holder card for a match.

Spot It Game Rules

When playing with 4 people on a side, no more than 4 cards can be placed in a row on that side! If you are playing with 2 back to back rows of holder cards (and more than 4 players), both groups will be racing to get rid of their cards but half will be using one row of holder cards and the other half will be using the other row.

4. Winning the game

The first player to place their last card in front of a holder wins!