Review & Giveaway: Puzzlets Starter Pack with Cork the Volcano Programming Game



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What we love…

Combines physical toy and fun interactive video game that teaches coding as they play

What we’d love to see…

Even more games (2 are scheduled to be released in 2017)

Summary

Puzzlets is a great, educational, #STEM /#STEAM toy that combines technology and hands on play to inspire creative problem solving skills.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

Puzzlets from Digital Dream Labs is a hands-on physical toy that allows children from Kindergarten age upwards to learn coding principles whilst playing. The starter pack includes  a Bluetooth enabled play tray and 22 programming Puzzlets plus a Cork the Volcano video game which can be played on an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Android smartphone/ tablet.  Two more games – Abacus Finch (Math) and Swatch Out (Color Theory) are due to be launched via Kickstarter in January 2017.

The target age range of Puzzlets is 6-10 so I had my nine year-old son act as my tester – he really enjoyed playing with it, and his thirteen-year-old brother was fascinated by it too and kept wanting to “help!” We tested it using an iPad Air 2.

Set Up

Puzzlets is compatible with iOS, Android and Mac OS X. To play you first need to download the free Cork the Volcano app from Google Play or iTunes or the Mac App Store.

Next you charge the Puzzlets Play Tray using the included USB cable and when it is charged connect to your device. When playing on the Mac you connect the Play Tray via the USB cable, for an Android tablet or iPad you connect via Bluetooth.

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In Use

Once you have set up the Puzzlets the first time it is really simple for kids to start playing without any adult help. The Play Tray automatically switches off when not in use. When they want to start playing again as soon as they open the app the Puzzlets Play Tray automatically wakes up and connects to the device without the player having to do anything. They can choose to continue a saved game or start a new one.

There are 22 Puzzlet tiles which the players place in the play tray to control the characters on screen and thus use them to solve a variety of challenges. These tiles each represent a snippet of code.

There are 3 types of tile:

Commands: These are main moves:

  • Move Left (3)
  • Move Right (3)
  • Jump (4)
  • Stop(2)

Modifiers: These  enhance the command tiles

  • (+) Intensify (3)
  • (-) Lessen (3)
  • (x2) Double (1)
  • (x3) Triple (1)

Characters: These let them switch between 3 characters with different powers

  • Rus the Gator (1)- walks over gaps
  • Hippo the Hedgehog (1)- fits through gaps
  • Sydney (1)- jumps high

As the kids work their way through the levels the different tiles are introduced and they are taught how to use them.  They can then solve the levels using any combination of code tiles. The commands are read in the order they are placed in the tray- like reading a book from left to right, top to bottom.

Puzzlets is designed to be used alone or in co-operation with another child or adult. In solving a level the first step is to work out what commands to use and in what order. Once the player is happy with the commands, they press the play icon on the bottom right of the screen. The character then performs the first command and continues following it until they tap the screen again to change to the next command they have programmed.

Solving a level involves not only problem solving in creating the correct combination of commands, but also timing and hand eye co-ordination in deciding when to switch to the next programmed command. I love how it combines both an on screen game and a physical manipulative toy and that the players need to use both together to solve the puzzles. There is no one “right way” to solve each level, the child can use their own problem solving skills to find a method that works for them. To beat a level they need to overcome obstacles to collect a puzzle piece, there is also an additional challenge of trying to collect as many water droplets as they can whilst completing the levels.

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My kids love Puzzlets as they are playing a fun video game with lots of levels to beat, I love Puzzlets because without realizing it they are also learning  basic coding skills as they play. Puzzlets are a very clever combination of an on screen video game and a physical toy that between them let the child control what the on screen characters are doing and solve challenges. This is a great, educational, #STEM /#STEAM toy that combines technology and hands on play to inspire creative problem solving skills. The target age range for Puzzlets is 6-10 years, though younger children may enjoy playing with adult help and I also found that older children (such as my 13 year-old) also enjoy it. There is a lot of replay value because it has many, many levels and you can solve each level in a variety of ways. Collecting all the water drops does add a significant extra challenge (and I haven’t yet worked out how to do this on every level!!) Two more games – Abacus Finch (Math) and Swatch Out (Color Theory) are due to be launched via Kickstarter in January. 2017.

Available from Amazon, Digital Dream Labs and other retailers  for US$99.

iTunes link: Cork The Volcano – Puzzlets – Digital Dream Labs LLC


Cork The Volcano - Puzzlets Cork The Volcano - Puzzlets by Digital Dream Labs LLC

Price: $FREE

Purchase of the Puzzlets Starter Pack required -- Contains 22 Programming Puzzlets, Play Tray, and micro USB charging cable.

Think outside the screen with a puzzling new way to play. Put Puzzlets.

 

 

Giveaway

If you would like to win a Puzzlets Starter Pack with Cork the Volcano (RRP $99.99), please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to USA Only and a valid mailing address is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

 

 

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Review of Circuit Scribe Electronics Kits and Giveaway for a Maker Kit – #STEM

BOSTON, MA - MAY 25.  Ryan Martin (left) of Boston and Jonas Gillespie (8) of Ithaca, NY happily observe the successful completion of an electronic circuit to power a moter. Martin is one of the members of an Electroninks outreach team that provided instruction and encouragement to children exploring circuit design using "Circuit Scribe" conductive ink and electronic components at Boston's Museum of Science.  Lori K. Sanders/Cambridge, MA.

Circuit Scribe Kits provide a great introduction to electronics. They teach kids about the basics of electronics whilst having them build a series of projects, which makes learning fun! There is no need to learn to solder when creating the projects- you simply use the included conductive silver ink pen to draw the wires and make connections. I recently got the opportunity to test out the CircuitScribe Ultimate Kit and found that it was a great addition to our Homeschool curriculum.

Review

The Circuit Scribe kits consist of a variety of electronic components as a series of magnetic modules, a workbook, a steel sheet, a circuit stencil and a conductive silver ink pen.  The Ultimate Kit contains over 30 components, plus instructions for lots of projects.

 

The Modules are color coded:

Input e.g. switch =red

Output e.g. LED =yellow

Connection e.g. transistor =grey

Power e.g. battery =blue

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Workbook

The Workbook contains lots of projects and they are color-coded so that you know at a glance which projects are compatible with the Basic or Maker or Ultimate kits. All projects can be completed using the Ultimate kit, most can be done with the Maker kit but the Basic kit can do less.

The steel sheet is used to place between pages of the workbook and acts as a magnetic backdrop for the projects. It also acts as a glossary of symbols and abbreviations used for describing electronic circuits and components.

For each project the student learns the theory behind the project, sees a circuit diagram for the project, then draws in the indicated wires using the silver ink pen.  They are encouraged to use some artistic flare rather than just tracing along the lines. Once they have drawn the required wires they can place the  modules in the indicated spots and they will magnetically stick to the steel sheet through the paper connecting to the silver ink wires as they do so. It takes a little practice to draw the wires so that they will conduct electricity well- you need to make the lines nice and thick without any breaks, but even if you don’t get them perfect the first time you can just add more ink to reinforce any areas of weakness.

As they work through the projects students learn the characteristics of different types of electrical components, how to create and read circuit diagrams.  As the students learn about the components they are encouraged to be creative and design their own circuits. The Ultimate kit is even contains connectors that allow you to use it with Arduino and Raspberry Pi (not included), and has a sample Arduino project.

Summary

Not only do Circuit Scribe kits provide projects to do, but they also teach the basics of electronics. Students learn about electrical components such as resistors, potentiometers and switches, plus they learn to draw circuit diagrams as well as build projects. This is a great kit for homeschooling families as it has students learning about physics, electricity and electronics in a hands on way. It is also a fun introduction to electronics for ages 10- adult – I know I learned from using it! Highly recommended #STEM gift.

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Maker Kit Giveaway

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Thanks to Circuit Scribe One lucky reader of The iMums can win a Circuit Scribe kit of their own- we have a Maker Kit to give away (RRP $79.99)

The Maker Kit contains 17 electronic components and instructions for a variety of projects.

Maker Kit Contains:

11 Modules:

  • 9V Battery adapter with 9V battery
  • x2 Bi-LED
  • SPST Switch
  • NPN Transistor
  • 2-Pin Adapter with 5x resistors (100, 1k, 10k, 100k and 1M ohm), 2x capacitors (0.1uF, 1.0uF), and one photoresistor (10k ohms)
  • Potentiometer – 10k ohms
  • Blinker
  • Buzzer
  • RGB LED
  • Light Sensor

Additional Items:

  • Conductive Ink Pen
  • Circuit Stencil
  • Jumper Sticker Sheet
  • Workbook
  • Steel sheet

Available from CircuitScribe.comAmazon and other retailers for US$79.99,

 

 

Giveaway

If you would like to win a Maker kit from Circuit Scribe ($79.99 value), please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to USA ONLY and a valid mailing address is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!
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NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Review & Giveaway for Malia’s House from Build & Imagine #STEAM

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What we love…

Easy to build, many combinations gives lots of options to play different ways, detailed illustrations and props encourage creative storytelling

What we’d love to see…

A bag included for storing all the small magnetic clothes and accessories

Summary

Malia’s house is a great S.T.E.A.M. gift – it encourages young builders to engage both the left and right side of their brain as they build and tell stories

Our Rating

recommended-by-the-imums

Historically building sets have been designed with boys in mind, but companies are now realizing that girls can be builders too, and creating sets made for girls. In many cases, like the Lego Friends series, this involves taking an existing building toy and making it more “girly” by changing the color scheme and theme of the sets. Build & Imagine sets were designed to get girls interested in building by providing them with a more creative, imaginative experience than standard building blocks. The Build & Imagine sets are building blocks meets dollhouse meets dress-up dolls. It’s a unique combination with lots of details designed to inspire girls (and boys) to build and imagine.

 

Malia’s House is one of the most popular Build & Imagine sets and the winner of a Parent’s choice Gold Award. The set includes 10 square, 4 triangular and 2 rectangular panels. These are illustrated on both sides and snap together magnetically.

Malia's House from Build & Imagine

Malia’s House from Build & Imagine

There is no set way to build Malia’s house – it can be one story or two, a traditional rectangle or  open plan. The builder can add a garage complete with charging electric car or flip it over and instead have deck on the beach. They can add stairs to a second story or turn over the piece to add a vegetable garden outside. There are many different permutations to create, the child can use their imagination to decide which scenes to include and what shape to build, every time they play they can rebuild it in a slightly different way. There is a working door and lots of different rooms and scenes illustrated on the panels, including furniture and indoor and outdoor scenes such as a kitchen, bedrooms, beach, garden and pool. 

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As well as the building panels the kit also includes 2 magnetic dolls- Malia and her friend Skyler plus lots of magnetic clothes, pets and accessories. The set can also be combined with other Build & Imagine sets for even more creative fun.

Malia’s house is a great S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) gift – it encourages young builders to engage both the left and right side of their brains.  Building with geometric shapes of the magnetic panels children work on simple engineering skills and and work on design, spatial reasoning and problem solving and design. The  play sets encourage creative storytelling with the illustrations, dolls, animals, clothes and accessories helping the child to tell a story.

I love how my daughter not only creates different scenes and dollhouses with Malia’s House, but that she also loves to tell stories about what is happening as she plays. A great #STEAM gift and it can be combined with other Build & Imagine play sets for even more creative possibilities.  Available from Amazon and toyshops for US$59.99 .

 

Giveaway

If you would like to win a Malia’s House Magnetic Building Set, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to USA only and a valid mailing address is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).



Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens by AVOKIDDO – Review & Giveaway



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

beautiful graphics, multiplayer option, a “redo” button in case you get stuck with a challenge and multiple different types of science taught

What we’d love to see…

a demo on the first level of each “new” castle in the easy mode

Summary

I love that the app teaches #stem and #commoncore and encourages kids to play and learn at the same time.  I never thought teaching a child physics could be so fun!

Our Rating

Thinkrolls: Kings & QueensThinkrolls: Kings & Queens by AVOKIDDO is a universal app for iOS that uses creative thinking, problem solving and logic skills to move to the next level.  This action packed multiplayer app contains 228 levels of play and works well for both younger and older children (and adults!)   The premise of the app is fairly straighforward, create a character and roll them through the obstacles to capture the magic key.  Each level gets harder with slightly harder obstacles and more difficult challenges.  There are six different castles to complete which I will describe below.

Castles
● Gear & Rack: combine gears with racks to create ladders & conveyor belts
● Chest & Bridge: fill gaps and collapse swaying bridges to clear the way
● Crocodile & Harp: use the harp to lull the crocodile to sleep
● Ghost & Mirror: shift the mirror to eliminate the ghost with reflected light
● Hatch & Lever: switch the lever to open and close hatches
● Flying Potion: unleash the magic potion to defy gravity and fly to the finish

Each of the castles has a “redo” button in case you get stuck within the level and can’t progress on.  The castles have beautiful artwork with amazing detail down to the strings on the harp which is used to lull the crocodile to sleep.  In each of the castles, as you complete each challenge you unlock the next level which also unlocks additional items that you can dress your character with.  Within the app when you tap the “gear” at the top of the screen you can choose the player, type of levels which are “easy” for kids aged 5-8 and “hard” for kids aged 8+.  For purposes of the review, we tested the app on “easy” mode with my 8 year old.  You can also toggle on/off the in-game music and select the language.

iPad Screenshot 5

I loved how the app encouraged my son to problem solve to master each level – there were a few times when he brought me the iPad because he couldn’t figure out the challenge the first time like using the harp to put the crocodile to sleep.  As the levels got harder, he got better at problem solving and I loved how he realized that if he didn’t “solve” it the first time he could try different things until he was able to do so.  I love the life skill here too because it showed him that even if we have regular challenges in life maybe the traditional way we approached the problem, might not always be the solution.  The animations within the app ranging from the crocodile mouth to the use of reflection with the ghost & mirror were amazing and I could really tell that AVOKIDDO spent a lot of time testing and perfecting the app to ensure things worked well and as planned.  I definitely also noticed that my son used a lot of great words to describe all the things he was learning to explain the science concepts – which we also discussed.  I never imagined physics could be so fun for an 8 year old and that he would understand the concepts after just playing with the app to master each of the levels!  Each of the levels targets a specific type of skill like gravity, force, joints or even simple machines and gets progressively harder as you progress within the app.  As a mom, I loved that I could play with the app using my own player to play with castles that were more suited to my level compared to my son’s.

In terms of future enhancements, there were a few times my son got stuck and since I wasn’t “playing along” the entire time I had to play through the level a few times to figure it out.  Perhaps a tutorial the first time you are presented with a new type of castle or object might be helpful for younger players on the “easy” mode.

 

Overall, this is a fantastic app that AVOKIDDO has made, every time I test one of their apps I think they can’t possibly top it, but each time I am surprised with the new ways them come up with to play.  I love that the app teaches #stem and #commoncore and encourages kids to play and learn at the same time.    The app has a parental protected area with a parental gate, no banner ads, no 3rd party ads and is COPPA compliant.  There are no-in app purchases. This would be a great app to use over the upcoming holidays because it’s not a “play once and done” especially for those that have a long trip!

Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens
Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens
by AVOKIDDO

Category: Education, Puzzle, Games, Adventure
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX
Size: 60.78 MB

$3.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

Also available on Google Play and Amazon.

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly. The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Giveaway

If you would like to win a copy of the app, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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