The noise level was louder than a normal classroom, and I loved it. Kids were in small groups, scattered around the room, fighting to be the first to solve the card and capture a point for their team.
Learning with games was an integral part of my strategy for teaching gifted kids in my classroom, and is still my favorite way to help my own kiddos learn. And Balance Beans by ThinkFun is our new favorite logic game to play.
What is Balance Beans by ThinkFun all About?
Balance Beans by ThinkFun is a math and logic game, all rolled into an adorable little travel pouch. In fact, it’s so popular here, that we throw it in the car for when the kids have to wait at music lessons or restaurants.
The idea behind the game is simple – make the two sides of the see saw balance by placing beans on its surface. Kiddos choose from a stack of puzzle cards, which range in difficulty from easy to medium to hard to super hard. The solutions are on the back, but some challenges have more than one possible correct answer. (I love that!)
The red beans are stationary. When a card is chosen, the player places the red beans indicated by the puzzle, and then uses the moveable beans (blue, yellow, and orange) to make the see saw balance.
Who is ThinkFun’s Balance Beans for?
Balance Beans is appealing to little guys like my 3 year old, who is just learning to think logically, and mostly likes to play with the beans on the see saw, all the way up to older kids like my 13 year old, who wanted to “set the record” for solving all of the cards the quickest. Honestly, one of my favorite things about ThinkFun single player logic puzzles is that they can be played by kids of various ages in different ways.
What is Great About the ThinkFun’s Balance Beans?
Watching learning happen without kids even totally being aware of it is one of the greatest joys of teaching – and getting to do that with one’s own kiddos at home is even better! I adore watching my kids play games like this because they think they’re just having fun, but I know that they’re learning valuable skills.
With ThinkFun’s Balance Beans, kids learn about equations. Equations are simply balanced sets of numbers. Two plus two is the same as three plus one or as four. By starting with red beans in specific locations on one side of the balance, kids need to make the two sides equivalent, thus learning about mathematical equations.
Kids also learn a bit of physics with ThinkFun’s Balance Beans. A see saw is a lever, with a fulcrum, and kids can make that lever balance by moving the beans around. Beans that are closer to the fulcrum do something different to the lever’s ability to balance than beans that are far away from the fulcrum.
Problem solving skills are probably my favorite thing learned when kids play logic games like this. They must employ one of the most challenging problem solving strategies when they first start to solve: guess and check. Guess and check seems simple, until one realizes that kids not only need to guess the solution to the problem, and check to see if their idea works, but they also need to apply any knowledge they gain to improve their guesses over time. This sharpens kids’ critical and logical thinking skills – skills that are crucial in today’s media-driven world.
Games like this simply help kid become better thinkers.
Why should you add ThinkFun’s Balance Beans to your game closet?
Really, it’s always a no-brainer for me when I run across a new ThinkFun game or puzzle. They’re all equally fantastic, and so they belong in our game closet. If you’re looking to expand your own collection of tools to get a little stealth learning in at home – whether you homeschool or not – you can’t go wrong with Balance Beans.
Want more “Learning with Games” suggestions? Try these:
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- Using Time4Learning to Homeschool When You Think You Can’t - May 29, 2020