3-12, Games, spatial reasoning

Gifts for the Gifted – Asteroid Escape

Several 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 (except for 2019) every 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, including my 2021 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. 

Asteroid Escape is produced by “Smart Games,” and if you end up liking this one you may want to visit their site to find others that are similar. Asteroid Escape is a lot like the classic Rush Hour game that you can find in many Gifted and Talented classrooms, with a spaceship and asteroids replacing the traditional cars and trucks. Like last week’s pick, this one is great for developing spatial reasoning skills. But Asteroid Escape comes with a booklet of scaffolded challenges, showing how the game board should be set up at the beginning each time, with the ultimate goal of sliding the pieces around so the spaceship can “escape” the asteroids by sliding down the only exit ramp.

You can purchase Asteroid Escape by Smart Games here.

This game is for 8 years and up. Though it’s technically a one player game, I like to recommend partners — especially a child and an adult if this is the first time the child has played this type of game. Taking turns on the challenges and thinking out loud is a great way to model the problem-solving needed. My 19-year-old daughter and her friend immediately turned to one of the hard challenges to test out the game (which I never recommend because children usually get frustrated and give up). Having grown up with me, my daughter grinned as I chided her, but stuck with it and solved the puzzle. After that, she and her friend were addicted, and returned to it several times over the weekend, commenting that the “ramp is satisfying.”

With a clear plastic dome that you can pop over the top, Asteroid Escape is portable and it’s easy to keep the pieces together. It makes a good travel game, classroom center, or challenge for “fast finishers.” I think it would be a good gift for anyone who enjoys puzzles and is interested in space.

Since I like to find independent toy stores to support when I do these recommendations, I am going to link to “Toys to Love” in Houston, Texas, where you can shop online or in-person. You can also go to the Smart Game website to find a store near you.

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