Homeschooling Teen

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Zoombinis

Hip Hip ZoombinisBy Tab Olsen

I am so excited! Finally there is a newly remastered version of Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, everyone’s favorite 1990’s educational puzzle game! (It won “Best Home Education for Pre-Teens” at the 1997 Codie awards.) Who else out there has fond childhood memories of the Stone Guards, Pizza Trolls, and Captain Cajun – or the Allergic Cliffs, Mudball Wall, and Bubble Wonder Abyss?

The reboot of Zoombinis stays true to the original, keeping the old soundtrack and game play, while adding fresh graphics and upgrading it for modern operating systems. (It’s downloadable on iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, Kindle Fire, and Steam.) A great story, clever humor, enthusiastic narrator, awesome music, memorable characters, and challenging puzzles make for a fun and engaging experience.

Zoombinis are cute little blue creatures, each with distinct personalities and appearances, who are escaping from the evil Bloats that have taken over their island. The player has to help lead the Zoombinis to the safety of Zoombiniville. Along the way, players face a series of increasingly difficult challenges that stand between the Zoombinis and freedom. There are short-term and long-term goals to work towards, from getting as many Zoombinis as possible through one puzzle to getting all 625 Zoombinis safely to Zoombiniville. (No Zoombinis are lost if they fail to navigate successfully through a puzzle; they just have to go back and start over.)

This fun logic game was originally designed by TERC, a not-for-profit education research and development organization based in Cambridge, Mass., and they also headed the redevelopment. The game’s twelve perilous puzzles, with four levels of difficulty ranging from “not so easy” to “very very hard,” are solved using math concepts such as pattern recognition, sorting, classifying, graphing, deductive reasoning, algebraic thinking, data analysis, theory formulation, and testing hypotheses. Zoombinis supports the math standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The creators promised that this game would “encourage kids to develop a lifetime habit of associating fun with learning,” and it’s true. It really trains your thinking skills, and yet it’s so much fun to play! Zoombinis is well-liked by parents, educators, and children alike. If you have never played Zoombinis, you are missing out on one of the best educational games of all time. We have long wished to play the original classic again – and would rather forget about those awful sequels from The Learning Company that were nowhere near the quality of the first.

I am thrilled that today’s kids and teens now have a chance to play this game! While recommended for ages 8-12, a logical thinker as young as age six can get through it (the game includes audio cues for reluctant readers), and the harder modes offer a good challenge for teens and adults as well. Zoombinis would be a great gift for young math whizzes, puzzle lovers, nostalgic fans of the original game, or anyone who enjoys playing games that require you to actually use your brain.

“Hip Hip, Zoombinis! Hip Hip, Zoombinis!”

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