TWA highlights the work of Daren Carstens of Carstens Studio Inc. This award winning developer’s motto is “Math is Fun” and his apps are a certainty of both entertainment and the challenge to stretch one’s mind and reasoning abilities. Through his apps, Carsten’s love of teaching shines through, and he strives to challenge children to become lifelong learners by making apps that are not only fun but help them grow in the process. Check out his web page at www.carstensstudios.com to find out more. Here are three of our favorites, presented in three parts. Symmetry Shuffle by Carstens Studio Inc. has been out since 2010 but is one of the most amazing and addicting games for learning to think spatially. Spatial reasoning is a cornerstone to praxis and the execution of practical life skills. It is what gets us climbing up a slide, finding the ice cream truck in the park when we hear the jingle-jangle of bells, and building and creating structures out of blocks and other materials. Although the game is played in a 2D format, by using the flip button one begins to tease out reaching into space by mentally flipping through another plane. Kids into physical arts such as sculpturing, building with LEGOs, or even dance/martial arts will enjoy the challenge of imagination. And as we know, with imagination, comes possibilities for action. This game is not just for kids, and you may find yourself just “showing” a child how to play a little longer than you might think. Gameplay centers on clearing a board with the least amount of moves by sliding, flipping or rotating tiles within a 9, 16, 25, or the wildly crazy 30-tile grid. Instructions are clean and simple, but don’t be fooled; success is ever so fleeting in playing one game to the next! On opening, choose between two modes of play. In race mode, play against the clock to gain points and complete puzzles to earn bonus time or access to more advanced levels of play. In both an easy and hard version, the solve mode is extremely addicting because it also factors in the efficiency of moves and effort. There are 12 tile sets to choose from that are both colorful and playful. Bugs, hearts and psychedelic cows are all hand drawn by Daren Carstens. Most of the drawings to help you solve the puzzles by offering to tell points for orientation, i.e. the handle of a cup or the front/back of the cow. However, some are subtle and to solve the puzzle one must visually focus and attend to the drawing's detail. One of the challenges of play is that although you may have solved a particular block's rotation, accessing another block by means of a solved piece may not necessarily save the solution to an already solved block in the grid. This means that strategy is critical, and you must plan out your moves efficiently too. Warning: Playing one round is like eating A peanut – You just can’t stop! So after striking the start button labeled “Do Math,” be prepared for hours to pass. This is why Symmetry Shuffle is a top pick, as it teaches all - that math IS fun! Highly Recommended.
Written by Jo Booth
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.
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