I received games to review, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to make your own choices and try alternative paths for learning. I think learning is fun, and I want my kids to think that too! So I love using games in our homeschooling, such as the games Katamino and Panic Lab from Gigamic. For some games the learning aspect is obvious, like The Presidential Game, which teaches about the electoral process. In contrast, these Giagamic games are Brain Games, designed to help kids (and adults) solve puzzles and reason. These are the kind of games kids play without even realizing that they are learning!
Katamino is a puzzle game with an impressive amount of variations. It can be played by one or two players and by anyone from age 3 up. The game board is a wooden tray that has an adjustable width. So you can make it smaller an easier game, or larger for a challenging one. The pieces of the game are colorful wooden shapes, most of which are pentaminos, a five square unit figure. For a one person game you simply chose a size for the base tray and then try to figure out how to fit the pieces in to fill the region. The detailed instruction manual that comes with the game gives many options for each size game board, telling you which pentaminos to use. It is simple in concept, but challenging in execution!
In addition to the game play the quality of the game is outstanding. The game board and pieces are well crafted out of wood and the bright colors add to the excitement of the game. The instruction manual is an actual wire bound book with thick glossy pages. The many game variations mean the manual will be used again and again, so the quality is essential.
A one person game is nice to have, since it can be a great way to relax, or for a child to play with while taking a break from standard schoolwork. It is also a game that doesn’t have to take a long time to play. You can pick it up, try to fit the pieces together, and then move on to something else. The only thing is it can get a little addictive when you know the pieces should fit and you just can’t see how to do it! My kids and I have all enjoyed playing Katamino, and it has been a fixture on our kitchen counter since we received it.
The game also has a few two person games. We have played the quick option, in which the two players divide the board in half and compete to see who can fill their half first. This is a lightning quick game, which takes only a few minutes to play. Combining speed with strategy makes the game even more educational.
In contrast to the single player mode of Katamino, Panic Lab can be played with up to 10 players, and the more players the more fun it is! In this game of reasoning the players have to race to collect amoebas which have escaped from the lab. Everyone plays at the same time, and after the dice are rolled the players must scramble to identify the amoeba which escaped. The four dice tell you which lab the amoeba escaped from and what direction it was headed. The dice also tell you the amoeba’s color, shape and pattern. The first player to correctly identify the amoeba collects a counter, and play continues with another dice roll until all 30 amoebas are caught.
What makes the game really challenging is that as the amoebas travel they can mutate and hide in air vents, so you have to be really quick at recognizing a pattern and shifting the pattern to find the correct amoeba. I am not good at this game at all! My daughter, Eleanor, can find the correct amoeba in seconds and I am always way behind her. I can sort of keep up with the pace of my other two kids, but Eleanor seems to have an innate ability to see patterns quickly.
This game is all stored in a small metal box, so it is perfect for traveling. We are going to take it with us when we go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, because will be fun to play with all my brother, sister, nieces and nephews. It is fast moving group game that really stretches your mind. It would also be an excellent stocking stuffer this holiday season.
I am thrilled have these new games to add to our collection. Either one is a brain game perfect for sneaking some learning into playtime. My kids are always glad when we put the books away for a little while and just play games, and these games I know they working on their strategy, spatial recognition and pattern matching will they play.
You can learn more about Gigamic on their social channels here:
- Gigamic website
- Follow them on twitter
- Like them on Facebook
You can find the games at Marbles, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or local game stores.