Getting to the ThinkFun Secret Sauce… Love of Learning

Strategies Lab

Around 2000, the visionary teacher Barbara Ross launched Strategies Lab, a hands-on puzzle based learning program that focused on reflection and self-awareness.  Here are excerpts from Barbara and other teachers’ efforts to sell the concept to their school administrations:

Visionary Fairfax teacher, Barbara Ross, created Strategies Lab and brought ThinkFun in to be partners helping to develop and spread the idea across the county.

More Information for teachers about how to organize and run the program in your classroom.

Four main concepts are emphasized: Flexibility, Fluidity, Originality and Perseverance.

Specific strategies described by students and written down using magic marker.

Essay that describes how Strategies Lab benefits children who participate, by Josi Mani and Jennifer Kalletta.

Great example of how teachers describe our game program, in this case as a grant request to the Virginia Association for the Gifted.

ThinkFun Learning Programs and Initiatives

Around 2003, ThinkFun became serious about the education market, we built on Barbara’s Strategies Lab with our own Game Club and other programs. Below are a selection of early planning documents:

 

Essay that lays out a clear description of exactly what ThinkFun games are and what they are not.  Worth reviewing.

One page values description explaining why we are building Game Club.

Visionary idea of networks of kids buying into our program and playing in sync.

May 2003 Puzzles in Education statement of business strategy, first time articulating a new business direction.

ThinkFun Game Club was in full swing in October 2007 when this report was written, is good strategic description of our hopes and dreams.

Bill trying to convince our skeptical president Ralph Cuomo that Math Club is a good idea.

May 2003 Learning Product manifesto.

2010 description outline of ThinkFun Education Programs.

2003 description of the ThinkFun Educational Initiative and how it works.

2003 description of the ThinkFun Educational Initiative and how it works. Outline of a program we developed with a group of Thai elementary school teachers… this is a beautiful description of how to position a learning game program. 

Bill R Powerpoint Presentations

ThinkFun faced great challenges coming out of the ’09 recession. Here is how we faced them.

Around 2010, we created our own cartoon characters to champion our BrainLab program, here they are…

Sixty slides that lay out in glorious detail the design considerations that went into the creation of our iconic game Rush Hour

The wonderful thing about games based on mathematical principles is that if you become expert in the game this means that you are also an expert in the principle.  Here is a sampling of five such ThinkFun games…

In 2012, Bill gave a TEDx talk about games and thinking skills, using his magic marker skills to describe his views on the thinking process and how to design games based on these insights

In 2012 Bill gave a Gathering for Gardner talk introducing ThinkFun University

Why can’t five year old kids play with puzzles based on algebra? A lighthearted look at demystifying math and showing how and where to find the fun

Bill R Talks

Bill was invited to give a keynote talk at an elementary school evening program where students all dressed up and represented themselves as some notable person from history. Was wonderful.

Bill was invited by Christan Martin to give a wild and crazy math talk to her Math Club students, here is transcript.