Shadow Move

Shadow Move is a free app that I hate.  I should probably confess that the apps that I hate are usually the ones that challenge me the most – quite often demanding some kind of spatial acuity that I seem to lack.  Also in this category are the apps that become addictive, that I stay up late at night trying to problem solve my way through to the end.  I have not stayed up late, yet, to work my way through Shadow Move.  But the weekend is quickly approaching, and I foresee an evening spent trying to wrestle some shadows into submission.

The concept of Shadow Move is simple.  Turn the object in the center until you can replicate the shadow pattern in the top left of the screen.  Initially, many of the challenges seem impossible when one first views the object to be turned.  But, rotating it slowly can usually help you to get an idea of what direction is optimal.

I was playing this app on my iPad at my daughter’s dance studio, and had three 10-year-old children watching over my shoulder, giving me advice on which way to turn the object.  They asked me the name of the app several times so they could download it on their own devices when they went home.

Shadow Move is a great app for developing spatial and problem-solving skills, as well as perseverance.  It reminds me a bit of Pictorial, another fun, spatial reasoning app.  For other apps that I have recommended, you can click here for an archive of my posts on apps, or you can also visit my Pinterest boards.

Factory Balls – The Christmas Edition

Factory Balls is a bewitchingly challenging Flash game that I found out about on “Technology Rocks.  Seriously.”  You have to drag the white Christmas ornaments to the appropriate tools that surround the tree to recreate the colors on the sample ornament.  Each level becomes increasingly difficult, as you have to learn how to layer the paint colors and use the correct pieces to imitate the design on the ornaments.  This is an excellent problem solving/logic game for our students.  It would probably be fun to do on an interactive white board.  You might also try using it on an iDevice through the Rover app, which allows you to play Flash games on the iOS.

For more fun Christmas-themed sites, I strongly encourage you to visit “Technology Rocks. Seriously.”  There is a goldmine of links that will satisfy anyone!

Goldie Blox

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As I was cyber searching for holiday gifts this weekend, I began to arrive at an unattractive conclusion.  Despite all of our efforts to combat sexism, it is alive and well in our toy industry.  My daughter had asked for some Nerf products for Christmas, and I was dismayed to see that, on many of the websites, these were labelled as “Gender: Boy”.  Delving into the matter further, I noticed that many of the building or engineering toys I found were also given this label.  In addition, even if the items were not categorized for a specific gender, the product descriptions often referred to “he” or “him” as the toy recipients, and usually had photos of boys playing with them.

According to this article in Atlantic, 90% of America’s engineers are male.  This is no surprise to me, considering the enormous gender bias that we greet our children with from Day 1 of their infancy.  In order to even the playing field, we need to seriously reconsider the preconceived notion that we, Americans, have about how boys and girls should play.  As teachers and parents, we should offer our children all kinds of toys, despite gender bias, and without prejudicial language.  And toy manufacturers and reviewers need to move on to the 21st century, where girls and boys should not be forced into traditional gender roles.

Debbie Sterling, creator of Goldie Blox, is trying to raise the number of female engineers by offering a new toy which combines a story with a set of pieces for construction.  This unique approach to introducing girls to the joy of building things for a purpose is absolutely ingenious.  According to Sterling, a Stanford graduate, she spent a year researching what features in this toy would appeal to girls.  Then, through Kickstarter, Sterling raised the funding to produce her toy, and her website states that they are estimated to begin delivery in April of 2013.

Although I lament the fact that this toy will be gender-biased, albeit toward the female gender this time, I think that Goldie Blox is definitely taking a step in the right direction.  Before we can completely stop color-coding our playthings for boys and girls, we will need to convince the majority of Americans to rectify our language and our subconscious decisions that lead our children to believe that only certain types of toys are appropriate for each gender.  I hope that the press that Goldie Blox is receiving will begin a conversation in our country that might eventually lead to this toy revolution.


For those of you new to this blog, I am devoting Fridays during the holiday season to recommending “Gifts for the Gifted”.  You can see the two posts that I have done so far here and here.  You can also visit my Pinterest board on Games for Gifted Students.  A lot of these are not just for gifted students, but would be appreciated by many children – and adults.

I have Wedgits in my classroom, and my students love them.  They enjoy meeting the design challenges on the cards, but they also delight in creating their own structures.  The pieces are practically indestructible, and the design combinations are endless.  Wedgits are the type of toys that meet the needs of kids who love to precisely recreate masterpieces while they also meet the needs of kids who want to make their own unique mark on the world.

Wedgits are available in many different bundles.  You can get a “Starter Set”, an “Explorer Pack” (oh wow!  I totally need this for my classroom!), “Mini-Wedgits”, Pink or Purple Wedgits, even Translucent Wedgits – and more.  Go shop for the Wedgits set that fits your gift-receiver’s personality, or your own!

ABC Splash

In this case, “ABC” stands for “Australian Broadcasting Corporation”, and “ABC Splash” is an educational website which offers video, audio, and games to support the Australian curriculum.  However, this Beta site is open to anyone, and it has some fun activities that could easily be integrated into English-speaking classrooms around the world.  It is designed for students in primary and secondary schools, and includes: Maths, Science, English, and History.  One of the interactives that I enjoyed exploring was “World Wonders TV Show: Earthquake” in which the user organizes facts about earthquakes to create a television script.

It looks like this site will be providing a lot of resources for teachers in the future, and it also includes an informative blog.  “ABC Splash” shows a lot of great potential.

Q-bitz Extreme

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During the holiday season (yes, I know it’s a bit early, but we all know that it’s going to come fast!), I have pledged to use my Friday posts to give suggestions for gifts for your favorite brainy child (or teacher of brainy children).  I’ve decided to call this “Gifts for the Gifted”.  Last week, I posted about the new, augmented-reality-enhanced Guinness Book of World Records.  Today, I offer you the game, “Q-bitz Extreme.”

Q-bitz” happens to be one of the favorite games in my classroom.  From Kindergarten to 5th grade, my gifted students all enjoy trying to create the patterns on the cards using the 16 wooden cubes.  Some of them create their own patterns.  Yesterday, one pair of students delighted in showing me that, not only did they create a pattern on top of the cubes, but that a reverse pattern showed when they flipped them over.  Although “Q-bitz” is designed to be a game in which 2-4 players compete, most of my kids prefer to do their own thing – which is fine, because there are four sets of cubes, each set a different color.

I recently found out that there is now a “Q-bitz Extreme“, which has new, curvy patterns to try to replicate.  If you visit the website for “Q-bitz Extreme“, you will see that Mindware offers some suggestions for variations on the game, which you could also use with the original “Q-bitz“.  In addition, they sell an expansion pack.

For some more gift ideas, you might also want to check out my Pinterest board at