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educational – Blue Orange Games Blog

Tag: educational

Congratulations to Shenanigans in Charlottesville, VA for Winning September’s Store of the Month

Congratulations to Shenanigans in Charlottesville, VA for Winning September’s Store of the Month

blueAs if it’s name wasn’t clear enough, Shenanigans is all about the funny business. Our sales representative, Bastien, recommended Shenanigans for their character! From being family owned, to having the friendliest staff, and creating a store with a little bit of everything available, there’s clearly something special about this shop! Although its filled to the brim with entertainment, Shenanigans also has the rich history to match.

Shop owner, Kai, moved from Florida to Charlottesville in the 70’s with her 4 week old son. Working as a copy writer there was never a shortage of tasks that she could lend her creative wizardry to, and add some flare. Just like mom, her son was a little go-getter. As a fast learner, he was walking by 9 months and out growing his old toys and games quicker than most. This left Kai having to travel far just to get those toys and games that were developmentally challenging and gender neutral. With other mothers in the area doing the same, it was clear the Charlottesville needed a toy store where the community could find that big city quality, and diversity, without traveling hours north. It was during these pilgrimages in search of fun that Kai saw a future for herself and family. Since she had also been looking for work with a young child, she was able to design a job with built in childcare that was just right for her. Thus Shenanigans was born!

 store 4With it’s door open for over 40 years, this shop knows fun like no other! In 1974 Shenanigans first welcomed those who sought out fun engaging toys and games without the journey. Fast forward to today where they still provide just that. Even though they aren’t the only toy store in the neighborhood, Shenanigans still reigns supreme! Kai states, “what sets them apart is their product selections”. With such a cute, little store, every item within those four walls is curated by their staff with maximum fun in mind. Knowing what makes customers squeal in delight is something that keeps the neighborhood coming back. Tailoring their selection so that games are completely original and never stale is exactly what puts Shenanigans at the top of the list!

Dr Eureka BoxAs far a Blue Orange Games, Kai would have to name Dr. Eureka as one of her favorites. Going into detail, Kai says our games have such bright and nice art and there’s always a great eye-catching factor.  But what truly lies beneath the cover is Blue Orange’s dedication to inspiring STEM and core developmental skills that don’t go unnoticed to parents. Kai motto is that “if it’s boring, it’s not educational, since they’re not going to play it”. This blunt but true statement by Kai really resonates with our product line.

Kai elaborated that the kids don’t need to think about the skills they’re gaining, but rather the fun should conceal it. When playing with building blocks, a child doesn’t necessarily know he or she is developing a basis of engineering, nor do they understand they are growing familiarity with STEM when they play a game like Dr. Microbe. Blue Orange has the same values; learning should be fun, and if kids already want to play the games then half the work is already done. Shenanigans’ philosophy is to leave the term educational out by labeling their games and toys as fun! As a type of parental shenanigans, or a method of mischievousness, kids are left having uninhibited fun without knowing that their developing better motor and strategic, critical thinking skills!store 1

When considering their success, Shenanigans is no stranger to being a community staple. Kai thanks her neighborhood for being the perfect location, as it is a region with few chain stores and many unique shops that are supported by their community. Not to mention being between two hubs of the city, Shenanigans is accessible for all, either for a quick stop in for the grand kids, or an afternoon spent exploring with the kids. Make sure to grab a copy of the original Shenanigans Coupon Book, with monthly deals such as Board Game Discount November coming up, it’s sure to be a good time! 

Working with Shenanigans has been a pleasure and we proudly award them September’s Store of the Month. As a important part of Charlottesville , Shenanigans is a place where you can find something for everyone, from the helpful staff to the perfect game. Shenanigans is always reachable via their website here or at 601 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA.

Congratulations!!StoreoftheMonth_HiRes

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

Educational Games in the Classroom – Pixy Cubes

Educational Games in the Classroom – Pixy Cubes

When using educational games as learning tools in and out of the classroom, 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. As a part of an ongoing series of posts, today we will be covering our creative storytelling game Tell Tale.

See previous post on Tell Tale

Pattern Building with Pixy Cubes

About the game:
Pixy Cubes is a versatile game that involves memory, speed and creativity, depending on how you play. The game contains 16 cubes with green, red, yellow, and blue sides—either as solids, half and half, or crescent shapes. Players use the cubes to complete patterns on the challenge and design cards, either in a race or by memory. It’s similar to Tangrams, but in 3D!

 

Pixy Cubes Educational pattern game

Grade Level Application:  Kindergarten

Skills: Math concepts, such as patterning, and attention to detail

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

Practice Patterns
Divide up the cubes so all players receive one of each cube pictured below. On a worksheet, there are 4 lines of patterns each with an outline of the next cube. They have to rotate their cubes to find which one fits the pattern and place it on the outline.

Practice Cooperative Play
Divide up the cubes so all players receive one of each cube (see picture above). Then have the students decide on a 16 cube Design Card to recreate the pattern of. Together they have to recreate the pattern using their cubes.

Grade Level Application:  4th

Skills:  Math concepts, such as repeated patterns

Lesson Plan Suggestions:
Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 2 per group
Noise level: Low

Practice Patterning With Mirror Images
Another activity for one student similar to Design Games is to use mirror images to extend the pattern. This pattern is two cubes high and eight cubes long. Students could use four Pixy Cubes to create one of the challenge card patterns. Then they are to extend the pattern with the second set of four cubes being a mirror image of the first four cubes.  The third set of four cubes will be a mirror image of the second set.  The fourth set will be a mirror image of the third set.

(Sets one and three are the same, and sets two and four are the same.)

Lesson Plan Suggestions:
Small Group: 4 children
# Of Games Required: 4 per group
Noise level: Low

Practice Patterning Using Tessellations
Another activity for one student similar to Design Games is to use mirror images to create a tessellation that is a 4×4 square using all 16 cubes.  Students could use four Pixy Cubes to create one of the challenge card patterns. Then they are to extend the pattern with the second set of four cubes being a mirror image of the first four cubes either to the left or the right. Then they are to place the remaining eight cubes below in a mirror image of the first eight cubes.  This will make a 4×4 cube square.

 

Grade Level Application:  3rd

PixyCubes_Cards&Pieces

Skills:  Math concepts, such as repeated patterns

Lesson Plan Suggestions:
Small Group: 6 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Moderate to low

Practice Attention To Detail
Speed Game with 6 players: Divide students into two groups of three students in each so there will be two games being played at the same time.  Each group gets six of the Challenge Cards and two sets of cubes as explained in the Speed Game.  Play begins in each group with two players and one observer who will rotate into the game in each of the rounds of play.  As soon as one of the players completes the pattern, the observer checks to see that it is correct.  If correct, the observer trades places with the first winner, scrambles the four cubes, and tries to beat the other player for second place.

  • 1st winner gets 3 points
  • 2nd winner gets 2 points
  • 3rd (last one to finish) gets 1 point

Play continues with the winner of the first round being the new observer, who will reenter the game when the second round has a winner. Players keep track of points. Play continues with winner of each round being the observer and re-entering the game as new winners happen. At the end of six rounds the one with the most points is the winner.

Educational Games in the Classroom – Tell Tale

Educational Games in the Classroom – Tell Tale

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. As a part of an ongoing series of posts, today we will be covering our creative storytelling game Tell Tale.

See the previous post in the series on Sumoku

 

Practicing Language Arts with Tell Tale

About the game:
Tell Tale is a storytelling tool consisting of 60 double-sided illustrated cards. Illustrations include characters, settings, objects and emotions. Players use the cards as prompts to build stories, either individually or collectively. Players may improvise and let chance lead their story, or plan it out.

 Educational Games Tell Tale

Grade Level Application:  Kindergarten

Skills:  Language and vocabulary development by thinking in sentences and using a variety of descriptive words, observing details especially facial expressions of emotions in people pictures.

Lesson Plan Suggestions
Classroom activity or Small Group: 4-6 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Moderate to low

Practice Language and Vocabulary development
Everyone is dealt 4 cards then after looking them over picks 2 to use. Using a story paper worksheet, draw a picture using those 2 images and then write or tell a sentence about what’s happening.

Practice Observing Details
Place 4 cards with facial expressions face-up in the center of the group. Have the students draw a picture with someone making one of those faces then write or tell a sentence about how that person feels and why.


Grade Level Application:  1st

Skills:  Language and vocabulary development by writing descriptive paragraphs

Lesson Plan Suggestions
Classroom activity or Small Group: 4-6 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Moderate to low

Practice Writing Descriptive Paragraphs
Each student takes a card and then chooses one side to write about. Using three or more sentences, they should describe what they see. Encourage them to be creative with this, i.e. “Who or what is in the picture?” “Where is this person/object?” “What is happening?”

 

Grade Level Application:  3rd

Skills:  Language and vocabulary development by creating stories (with a beginning, middle, and end) and using a variety of descriptive words, writing skills such as handwriting and using sequenced events in stories

Lesson Plan Suggestions
Classroom activity or Small Group: 4-6 children
# Of Games Required: 1 per group
Noise level: Moderate to low

Practice Writing Stories With Beginning, Middle, and End
Write a story.  Write a story by taking the top six cards from the stack.  Using either side of the cards, line them up in the order you want to use them in your story.  Write a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Practice Writing a Cooperative Story
Continue a story.  Each child draws one card and uses it to begin a story.   As each child completes writing about the first card they place the story on top of a stack of stories to be continued.  They take the bottom story from the stack, get a new picture card, read what has been written, and continue the story by using ideas from their new picture card.  Several stories could be in progress at the same time.   A child may draw the same story at a later time.  This is alright as long as someone else has written on it since their earlier writing.