Thursday, October 2, 2014

ThinkFun Shell Game

In 1985, husband and wife team Bill Ritchie and Andrea Barthello founded ThinkFun, originally called Binary Arts, with a noble mission, "To translate the brilliant ideas of the craziest mathematicians, engineers and inventors into simple toys that can be appreciated by boys and girls around the world."  They still believe this today. I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to work with such a great company by getting the chance to try out the Thinkfun Shell Game.

You may be familiar with the classic cup game where the “shuffler” tries to trick his or her spectators into thinking an object is hiding under one cup rather than another. In most instances, no matter how hard you focus, getting the right answer seems to be a gamble. In this twist on this classic, they use Sea Shells and Hermit Crabs. The goal is not to deceive, but rather to improve your memory and logic skills to help you win. I love how simple this game is to set up and understand, and I actually really enjoy playing this game. At a time when most games are played electronically, it has been really nice to sit down and enjoy a quiet moment to myself.

You are basically the shuffler and the player as you try to match up the hermit crabs into their correct positions using logic and memory. First, you pick a challenge (they range from beginner to expert), then you line up your hermit crabs and rocks into their starting positions and put the shells on top of them. Then you swap around the shells (two at a time) from position to position along the printed arcs to get the crabs into the correct "end" position. When you think you've got it, you lift the shells and if the crabs match the end position, you win! Its a lot easier to understand than it sounds and the instructions booklet comes with really great in depth picture instructions. In the pictures below, you can see how it is set up. The first picture shows the starting position for that challenge, the second picture shows the shells on the crabs, and the last picture is the ending position of the crabs and rock for that challenge. You can see how the colors of the crabs match up with the colors on the bottom.

 Z is only 2 (almost 3) so she's still way below the age range for this game but I'm actually surprised by how many different games we've been able to invent using the shells and hermit crabs! Z's favorite game we play is so simple yet so fun. We start by putting all of the crabs under all of the shells and I'll ask her to find a certain letter and she'll open up every shell one at a time until she finds the crab with the letter she is looking for! Sometimes I just take 2 or 3 shells and hide one crab under a shell and shuffle them a few times (slowly) and let her guess where it is. She absolutely loves it and I can see her brain churning as she tries to figure it out. She has started to remember what colors have what letters and she can even put the letters in alphabetical order now (I like to put the crabs away in alphabetic order because I'm OCD like that. lol) This game has seriously been such a fun learning experience for both of us and I recommend it for every family!

Z hiding all of the crabs under the shells. :)

Ages:  8 to adult
Players:  1
6 Sea Shells
6 Hermit Crabs
3 Ocean Stones
60 Spiral-bound Challenges
Instructions & Solutions Manual

You can buy your very own Thinkfun Shell Game at! 

This would make such a great birthday or Christmas present for anyone! I'm thinking of getting it for my 6 year old nephew, although he's only 6, I just know he would love figuring out how to solve these challenges!  I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


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