Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Expanders from SimplyFun (Schoolhouse Crew Review)

It's no secret that we like to play board games around here.  I have talked about the value of games, and how I think almost any game can be utilized for educational purposes, even if that is not the primary intent of the game.  Naturally I was intrigued when I saw that SimplyFun would be offering games for the Crew to review.  We were very happy to be chosen to review the board game Expanders.

Review for Expanders from SimplyFun

What is it?
SimplyFun is a young, award-winning company who strives to help families connect and learn through PLAY!  I was hooked.  I believe wholeheartedly in learning through play, and I'm sure I've made that clear around here.

Expanders is a board game that helps players practice different math and logic skills.  In particular, the company specifically lists reverse addition, spatial reasoning and critical thinking.  The objective of the game is to use all of your tokens first, which you do by finding connecting numbers that add up to a specific sum.  You want to fill empty spaces and block your opponent in the process, to keep them from using up their tokens first.

The game is intended for 1-4 players, and includes the following:

~1 mainframe
~6 double-sided circuit boards
~2 circuit board fillers
~4 sets of tokens (32 of each color)
~Expander token storage bag
~Rules booklet

Review for Expanders from SimplyFun

How We Used It
I requested this game with Elliott (8) in mind.  This kid loves board games, he loves math, and Expanders looked like a great way to do some summer fun-schooling.  During the summer we keep a lighter schedule.  We do not use a math curriculum during the summer months, but instead use games and other FUN methods to review and practice different skills.  This game was perfect for our goals!

Playing the game is pretty straightforward.  I read the directions a couple of times through and looked at the examples so I could explain the rules.  Then we got to it!

There are very specific rules for the first few turns that players take when the game starts, but then we had more freedom on the types of moves we were allowed to make as the game progressed.  Essentially our goal for most turns was to choose a number and "expand" across the board by covering connecting numbers that add up to that first number.  That's the quickest way to use your tokens, and the end-goal is to be the first player to use all your tokens, or to have the least number of tokens when everyone is out of moves.

For instance, in the picture below, the orange 8 was covered and the two connecting 4's were covered as part of that move, using three tokens total.  You can look past simple number bonds and connect as many addends as possible to reach a sum though, using more of your tokens.

Review for Expanders from SimplyFun

What Did We Think?
The rules are fairly straightforward, and game play is quick and easy.  I like that the game board can be configured in many different ways.  The double-sided circuit boards are actually two different levels (one side has smaller numbers for easier game play, the opposite side has larger numbers), and depending on the number of players, you'll use between 4-6 circuit boards.  This means that your playing options can be changed regularly.

Would I Recommend This Game?
Yes!  It's fun and educational!  The variations in the game board means that it won't be identical, and with different players and different game layouts, your strategy will have to change.  It is recommended for ages 7 and up, but really as soon as children understand the properties of addition, they can begin to play.  It can be used for family game night or as part of homeschooling.  The single-player instructions means it could even  be used for independent "work" during our homeschool.  I could see it being used in co-ops or even classrooms as during small-group game time.  It's a versatile game with a great purpose, so yes, I definitely recommend it!

The crew reviewed Expanders and a card game called Shape Whiz (ages 10+) so be sure to check out more reviews and find out more about SimplyFun!

Website:  www.simplyfun.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplyfun 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/simplyfun 
Instagram: https://instagram.com/simplyfun/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/simplyfun/

Simply Fun Review

Crew Disclaimer

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