3-12, Education, Fun Friday, Games, Problem Solving

Stratos Spheres by Thinkfun

When I first opened the Stratos Spheres game from Thinkfun, I didn’t get it.  24 yellow and blue spheres tumbled out along with a white one.  It looked kind of boring, to be honest – which was surprising to me considering the source.  I’ve reviewed many Thinkfun games and none of them have been boring.  I was a little worried that I would even find someone to try this two-player game out with me.

Two enthusiastic third-graders who visit my classroom every Friday before school had no problem giving the game a try.  At first, they weren’t even interested in the game; they just wanted to build with the spheres.  They were completely entertained by using their imaginations with the pieces, and might have played like that for 30 minutes if I hadn’t suggested playing the actual game.

Stratos Spheres is similar to Connect 4 in that you are trying to get 4 of your color in a row, and the other player can block you with his or her color.  However, Stratos Spheres “rows” are 3-dimensional.  This gives you more choices for building your row of 4, which can also be diagonal.  Play starts with one player connecting a colored piece to the white sphere, and alternates back and forth until someone creates a row or you both run out of spheres.

Stratos Spheres by Thinkfun
Stratos Spheres by Thinkfun

The spheres have connectors on their sides that can also be used to block.  Players cannot remove a sphere once it is placed, which means that a perfect spot for your piece might be blocked by a piece by a connector.  This can be frustrating, but can also be used to your advantage.

Winning is tricky.  Sometimes you can win without even knowing it. One of my students was examining the connected spheres from every angle to decide his next play when someone pointed out to him that his opponent had already won.  He’s not the only one this has happened to, apparently, as you can see in this video review of the game from “Dad Does.”

I am terrible at this game.  My fourth graders easily beat me.  This, of course, made me want to play even more – because I needed to earn back my street cred.  However, we had some actual academic work that needed to be completed, so we haven’t had a chance, yet, for the number of re-matches it will take for me to improve.

Stratos Spheres is only $9.99, which is pretty good for a game that is light and can easily be transported in the supplied bag.  Road trips or plane flights might be more palatable for kids 8 and up with this game to keep them occupied.

For more game recommendations, including several from Thinkfun, check out this Pinterest Board.  With summer just around the corner, you’re probably going to want to stock up!

Full Disclosure – I received a free copy of this game from Thinkfun to review.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Education, Fun Friday, Games, Problem Solving, Websites

Game About Squares

Before you click on the link below, you must agree to the following statement:

“I will not hate Terri Eichholz for the rest of eternity just because she introduced me to this horribly addictive game that got me fired from my job because I couldn’t stop playing.”



It’s Phun Phriday, and I found a really fun game that I’ve been wanting to share with you all week.  It’s called “Game About Squares.” It’s online and HTML 5, so you should be able to play it on mobile devices.  (I haven’t tried because I don’t want to start over!)

One of the messages between levels on Game About Squares
One of the messages between levels on Game About Squares

I am currently stuck on Level 14, and I am not a happy camper.  I’ve been making myself solve at least one new level every time I get on my home computer, but I tried two last night and got stuck.  I’m sure I could find the answer on the internet somewhere but that kind of defeats the purpose.


Check back with me in a few days and see if I’m still feeling that ethical about it…

I despise you, Level 14!
I despise you, Level 14!
Apps, Critical Thinking, Education, Problem Solving

My Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps

I thought this might be a good time of year to summarize and emphasize some of the most valuable resources I have reviewed so far.  Today, I would like to offer my Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps:

#3:  Solitaire Chess Free – I reviewed this as a tangible game provided by www.mindware.com, but it is available as a free app as well.  This is a great way for children to learn how the chess pieces move, and to train themselves to think ahead.

#2:  Isle of Tune – You can play this for free on the web, or you can download the app for $2.99.  As it is a music app, you might question why I include this app in the Strategy/Problem-Solving category.  But, I think there is a lot of problem-solving involved in trying to figure out how to use the tools to compose your song.

#1 – Bubble Ball – This is the most requested app during Center Time or indoor recess in my classroom.  It is fun to stand near a small group of students who are playing this app as they discuss the strategies for getting the ball to the flag using the different tools provided at each level.  I still can’t believe this app is free, as it has provided endless engagement for my students at every grade level.  Another thing that I like about the app is that every level has several solutions.

Here are my original posts on each of these:  Solitaire Chess, Isle of Tune, and Bubble Ball.