SimplyFun is a company that produces educational and fun family games. The games can be purchased through home parties with a SimplyFun consultant or directly through the website. They offer a large variety of games that address many different academic skills. They also offer a homeschooling membership which gives a discount on every purchase and two free games for a $19 yearly fee.
We received the game Expanders which sells for $34 on the site and is recommended for ages 7+. The game focuses on math and particularly on addition, reverse addition, spatial reasoning and critical thinking. I got the game with my younger girls in mind- ages 9 and 11. Their addition and subtraction speed is still pretty slow at times, and I was hoping that practicing the addition and reverse addition in a fun way would improve their knowledge of the facts. As it turned out, many of us enjoyed the game, and it quickly turned into a family favorite.
The game consists of cardboard rectangles with rows of numbers that are places inside of a frame. The rectangles have numbers on the front and back. This means that every time you set up the board, you can use different number combinations to keep things challenging. There are also some blank rectangles that serve to make the numbered area smaller when there are fewer players. Each player is given tokens for his color. Up to four people can play.
Now, I have to confess that my children don't always jump at the opportunity to make every activity a "learning" activity. And when I opened up the Expanders game and they saw that it involved numbers and math, the reception was less than ecstatic. I
The set up of the game and the instructions for how to place tokens on your turn were a little confusing at first. There are pretty detailed instructions, however, and some diagrams that help you to visualize how it works. I like to get in and actually begin playing the game, and I usually find that we figure it out as we move along. The kids were still a little skeptical, but were beginning to get a little more interested as they saw how the game was going to work. And we all love a little healthy competition in our house, so they were also excited to see who would win.
The basic idea of play is to choose a number by placing a token over it and place tokens on any numbers in the row or column or diagonal that add up to the chosen number.The numbers all have to line up. And the idea is to be the first player to lay down all of your tokens. So, of course, you want to expand your number as far as possible to use as many tokens as possible- thus the name Expanders.
I have to say that the disinterest was quickly changing by this point. The girls realized that, besides math, this game required quite a bit of thinking and strategy. And, or course, there was the attempt to choose as many big numbers as possible and use all the tokens. At some point in the game, Charles walked by and took an interest. But we didn't let him in in the middle of the game. We made him wait. I don't remember who won our first game. I'm sure it probably wasn't me. Ashlyne turned out to be really good at the thinking and strategy. And both girls realized how much it would benefit them to really know their addition and subtraction facts and how that would help them in the game.
Expanders has been brought out to be played quite a few times since then. Charles did begin playing with the girls, and he enjoyed the game as well. I realized that Expanders had passed the test as a much enjoyed game when I found that the girls had packed it with the games we took to the beach.
The kids love the competition and the strategy and the joy of winning (not as much the losing) of Expanders. I love that it's a game that teaches but is still fun and appealing to the kids. Because of that it's one they'll go to time and time again- not just when I bring it out for the sake of school. And every time they play, their math skills are improving; they are developing critical thinking skills; and they are learning about having a strategy and making a plan of attack. Expanders has quickly become a favorite for all of us.
Product- Expanders (game)
Age Recommendation- 7+
You can read what other Crew reviewers thought about Expanders and a geometry game from SimplyFun- Shape Whiz- by clicking below.