Gifts for the Gifted – Chicken War and Domino Maze

 A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. You may notice that I missed 2019, but I’m making up for it this year with a post every Thursday in November and December up until Christmas Eve.

Today’s Gifts for the Gifted entry is a guest post from my friend, Emily Mayes. She and her three children are the perfect sample group to review Thinkfun games. Although my family, students, and I have always been a big fan of Thinkfun (as you will see from previous Gifts for the Gifted posts), my retirement from the classroom last December prompted me to seek some other expert opinions!

“My three kids (ages 15, 12, and 8) have been playing Thinkfun games since they were in preschool and they are some of our favorites.  We recently tried out Chicken War and I was impressed that all three ages really enjoyed it. That can be difficult to find in a kid or family game! It does take some time to go through all of the rules and they can be confusing. We had to reread the instructions a few times and refer back to them as we started the game. But by our second game the next day we were old pros. 

Chicken War from Thinkfun Games

The game starts out with you having to choose a leader for your ten chicken army and while that may seem easy to younger players, older players will understand they should put thought into choosing as the first army with all matching chickens wins. The leader has to share two, and only two, characteristics with the rest of the chicken in their army. You can either infiltrate an enemy army, steal a chicken, or lob an egg at an enemy chicken you think may be their leader. That is how the strategy and planning are involved. My older two kids really enjoyed that part of it and did better ultimately than their younger brother who was more concerned with just his army and not paying attention to the other player’s armies. My oldest won both times and wasn’t a fair match to my youngest who really loved just matching the chickens and “lobbing” chickens when he could. Everyone really enjoyed it and we have reached for it again. 

The next game we tried out was Domino Maze. This is a solitary game -which we like to have on hand for when one child is bored but others are preoccupied. I am always on the hunt for games that increase their problem solving and critical thinking skills and really hone in on executive functioning skills. Domino Maze was another game that kept all three kids engaged and happy.

Thinkfun Domino Maze

 My oldest started with the more difficult challenges in the book while my younger one started from the beginning. The challenge book starts at beginner and tells the child which game pieces are needed for that particular challenge. Unlike some of the other Thinkfun solitaire games, your child will know if they did the challenge correctly if the dominoes fall the way the challenge indicates. However, the challenge book also gives correct answers if needed. My two oldest stuck to the challenges but my youngest started making his own creations and own challenges. I love that the game is so open-ended that it should keep kids of all ages busy and happy for quite some time. My 8 year old said, ‘I love that it comes with a staircase and a blocker that makes it more challenging. I liked playing with the staircase-  trying to make the dominoes go up and down!’ ” ~ Emily Mayes and her Superstar Family

Thanks to Emily and her family for their reviews! Both games sound like tons of fun. Who wouldn’t want to lob eggs or topple dominoes? Also, don’t forget you can always go to the Thinkfun home page to access resources for parents and educators that will take learning and games to the next level.

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