We’re fond of brainy challenges in my family. Many of them are odd, like singing whimsical songs to each other using lyrics improvised at the moment or amusing ourselves with games based only on the dictionary. So naturally we’re enthusiastic about Marbles: The Brain Store. They’re our kind of geeky. They offer fun products designed to boost learning such as unique board games, puzzles, books, CDs, and software. Their products are for all ages and you can search their site or stores by age, skills to be strengthened, and more.
Our favorite Marbles product is Rock Me Archimedes. This consists of a high quality wooden game platform, with wooden marble storage cups that slide out from the platform to create a tabletop teeter totter. Using the game’s die and 28 marbles, players try to be the first to oh-so-carefully get four marbles to one end of the board without reaching the tipping point, causing it to touch the table. It’s said to be for ages eight and up, but we’ve found that much younger children (with supervision) enjoy using the game for open-ended play. Three-year-old Millie recently spent nearly an hour lining up black and white marbles on the game board in different configurations without tipping it.
Then there’s the Extraordinaires Design Studio. A giant needs something to wear, a vampire needs a cooking utensil, a fairy needs a remote control, and it’s the player’s job to design something truly extraordinary to meet these needs. With a few prompts, players become product designers for larger-than-life characters. Once the design is complete, they present it to other players or upload it to the Extraordinaires design gallery. One customer review noted that the game was a perfect ice breaker for the first day of college-level art class because it promotes collaboration and prompts design thinking.
And don’t forget Catchoo. Strap on the wristband with “flicker” attached. Scatter a dozen “pickers’ on the floor. Then challenge an opponent to compete in snatching up as many as they can. It’s a handy way to promote coordination, balance, and concentration. It’s also fun to play alone.
We’re fans of Marbles: The Brain Store. You might want to check it out.
GeekMom received some items for review purposes.
Laura Grace Weldon is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending as well as Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm with her family where she's working on her new project, Subversive Cooking.com. and blogging optimistically.