Thinkrolls 2, the much awaited sequel by Avokiddo is now here!!! Who knew that logic and applied physics could be so much fun? The sequel is a stand-alone app that continues the adventure of these pudgy little balls of personality and well, just pure joy. Kids direct the Thinkrolls to roll, drop, float or travel via wormholes in space to complete each individual journey. There are 235 levels of puzzlers divided up over 7 chapters of challenges (117 levels for the 3-5 crowd, and 118 levels for kids 5-105). Each level scaffolds the complexity of the current puzzler on the last, helping kids integrate what they know by gently leading the way to expand their ability to problem solve and think when faced with new dilemmas. This makes for building confidence, persistence and the ability to cognitively shift gears fearlessly. In other words, by being flexible in our thinking, it opens the space to what may be possible and that is the impetus to how one learns to think creatively. Successful completion of each chapter unlocks another Thinkroll character, and you will want more! Believe me, there is a Thinkroll for everyone – from a little lamb to an astronaut that can help bring out the little scientist or engineer in all. Watching the Thinkrolls reactions is just pure bliss. They have a full range of affect and attitude to boot. Transitions from chapter to chapter are laugh out loud funny as the new character and the former vie for your attention to be picked for the next quest. For educators, each chapter is built by introducing new science-based concepts and properties in which to experiment. Themes such as gravity, electricity, force, and space are delightfully represented and reinforced by these engaging little balls of fun. The ability to track progress in up to 6 players is also handy.
Let’s explore the chapters and some of the lessons. Start by choosing a Thinkroll, and then open the first chapter to begin a journey. The first chapter centers on learning basic logic and iPad skills, and is focused on moving the Thinkroll through a series of mazes where accordions are used to help navigate the path. Here kids learn to strategize how to move by expanding or compressing the accordions to make bridges or stairways so as to avoid getting stuck in a pit. By looking at movement in both vertical and horizontal planes, the world begins to get bigger, and kids begin to experiment beyond linear thinking.
Buoyancy, by testing what is able to sink or float comes up next. Thinkrolls sink while the heavy barrels float, so the barrels need to be placed in the water to help the Thinkrolls complete their quest. But watch out! Anything from past experiences may come back and an accordion may be useful as an alternative to crossing over water, instead of figuring out a way to move that barrel. Completing this chapter then experimenting in live action with found objects and a tub of water would be a fun off screen activity.
The Egg. Unless it lands on grass, its curtains and the Thinkroll may face getting stuck in a pit. Determining whether you need to break the egg or have it in place to roll the Thinkroll across it, teaches kids not only about force, acceleration and gravity, but also about being mindful of the characteristics of the medium you are working with and carefully evaluating what you need to accomplish a task.
Did you know that Thinkrolls and other objects can float on air? The fan serves as a valuable tool, and will help by either displacing an object in space for a while so that other objects can be moved (fan on) or serve as a resting place (fan off). There is also the possibility to float multiple objects at once.
My favorite was the wormhole. You have to learn to wait and watch before moving the Thinkroll in a wormhole. An impulsive decision may result in putting you further away from the goal. Learning to wait teaches about timing and synching actions according to environmental conditions as well as fostering early executive functioning and self-regulation skills.
Chapter 6, brings in the element of electricity by introducing the battery. Watch it now, Thinkrolls can get fried if the circuit is live…and they don’t like it one bit. Fry a Thinkroll, and it may start crying so it’s best to wait for the circuit to be turned off. Again the need to inhibit the impulse to act and first observe patterns of operation is paramount in completing the given quest. In these later levels, operations can get quite complex and involve many steps. Trials to successfully clear the Thinkroll in sailing past the goal line can get frustrating. Modeling dealing with failure and giving gentle encouragement (without giving the answer) goes a long way. Here is an opportunity to discuss that with each unsuccessful attempt, one gets closer to the answer by eliminating what doesn’t work.
Reinforcing perseverance and a positive attitude will guide kids through the process.
And last but not least is a lightbulb that constantly goes off. Turning it on during a tricky maneuver can be daunting. In this chapter, one needs to quickly assess all variables including ones in the previous levels and take action. Wee doggies this can be hard and you never know what’s coming up! Accessing both working memory and visual memory helps kids learn to trust in themselves.
Avokiddo really has their finger on the pulse of what’s fun for kids. And we all know, that learning through fun activities create memorable moments, and that is what makes learning stick. Later in life when learning more complex details about the subject – whether it’s about gravity or building circuits, there will be something to draw upon. The graphics, animations, and sound effects are spot on. Features such as the ability to restart a level requires a double tap, preventing accidental restarting are thoughtful and are presented from a user’s perspective. These are just some of the reasons of why TWA loves Avokiddo. It is heartily recommended for kids of all ages.