Product review – Balance Beans from Thinkfun

This is a problem solving, logic and math game all in one from Thinkfun, It is marketed to ages 5 and up. We tried it with a 5, 10, 12 and 78 year old. Yes, Grandpa had to join in on the fun!

The game

Setting up the game is very easy, even for the youngest players. First you assemble the see-saw by placing the balance tray on the base. Then choose a challenge card ranging from easy to difficult, there are 40 challenges in total. The front of the card shows you how to place the red beans on the balance tray. These beans remain stationary and are not allowed to be moved during the game.

Now the player attempts to strategically place indicated orange, yellow & blue beans on the balance tray without it teetering to one side or the other. You are only allowed to use the colourful beans that is specified on the front of the challenge card. Once you balance the see-saw, you are actually balancing an equation!

As the challenges get harder, you’ll rely less on trial and error – and more on math, physics and reasoning skills. If the challenge is too difficult, the solution is on back. Although some challenges might have multiple solutions. The game is marked to be enjoyed by a single player but we found multiple players that want to can work together on the solution.

Watch a video on how to play here

Quality

The pieces are well made and will stand up to a lot of use. The cards are pliable, but laminated with a thin material to protect from minimal spills. Overall the quality is very good.

What’s in the box

  • Game Tray and Base
  • 9 Game Tokens (3 Single Beans, 3 Double Beans and 3 Triple Beans)
  • 40 Challenges from Easy to Super Hard with Solutions
  • Instruction Manual
  • Game-Go Bag

Fun

A lot of fun was had by everyone that tried the game. Children do not have to understand the math behind the game to play. Through simple hands-on experimentation, young players discover how beans placed farther from the center of the balance tray will lower the board more than an equal number of beans placed closer to the center and so the easy challenges can be completed through play and experimentation. The 5 year old found it difficult to start but once he grasped the concept he enjoyed the easy challenges. As the challenges grew harder one of the older cousins had to help and guide him a little bit.

The older kids found the easy challenges really easy, but when it came to the very hard challenges they had to think a little bit more and took a bit longer to complete it. There were even a few challenges that stumped them a little bit, until grandpa asked abstract questions that helped them in the right direction. He had great fun seeing how all the grandkids were using math to play the game and felt very useful when they asked for help. He even tried some of the super hard challenges himself.

Developmental benefits

There are many developmental benefits from this game: Setting up the challenges requires spatial and perceptual skills as pieces are positioned in the correct rows. It also develops fine motor skills during manipulation of the pieces.

Solving the challenges incorporates STEM skills. It requires a lot of problem solving, math and planning skills, which is excellent for cognition. It also uses perceptual and spatial skills as the child has to see which beans are able to fit where, or they have to manipulate pieces, and try and see what beans are available and where they may fit.

All in all, a great game, which encourages and develops many skills. Most appropriate age range: 5-9 years.

Our Rating – 4/5 Beans

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