My son is at an age now where he’s starting to get more into hands on fun (thank goodness I can get him away from video games), and learning why and how things work. And when I can find something that offers him hands on fun and learning, but doesn’t require some type of homemade explosion in the kitchen or a mess in general, it’s a win-win for me.
This is exactly what Balance Beans from ThinkFun offers. Balance Beans is a one player game for ages 5+ that promotes logic and problem solving, and teaches a basic physics principle – the further away weight is from the center of balance, the more downward force it exerts.
Imagine carrying a bag of groceries. Would you prefer to carry the bag with your arm extended outward at shoulder height, or would you prefer to carry the bag close to the body and center of balance? The obvious answer is close to the body and center of balance, well, unless you’re some type of super human or have some amazing muscle strength. It’s harder to carry a bag of groceries with your arm extended outward at shoulder height because there’s more downward force acting on the bag. Balance Beans teaches my son the same principle, but in a fun way.
- Seesaw for balancing.
- 3 red beans – single bean, double bean, triple bean.
- 2 orange single beans.
- 2 yellow double beans.
- 2 blue triple beans.
- 40 challenge cards – Easy to Super Hard (including solutions).
How to play:
- Simply set up the seesaw and select a challenge card.
- Place the red beans on the seesaw as indicated on the challenge card. The red beans are stationary and once placed on the seesaw, cannot be moved until you’ve solved that particular balancing challenge.
- Using the orange/yellow/blue beans as indicated on the challenge card, balance the seesaw. These beans can be placed on any empty space available and once placed can be moved around. You can only use the specific beans indicated on the challenge card and must use them all.
- Balancing the seesaw completes the challenge and you’ve won! Try a new challenge card until you’ve completed them all.
My son couldn’t wait to open his new Balance Beans game, and once he figured out how it worked, he became a balancing machine. Of course, he wants me to watch him successfully complete his balancing challenges, so every day this week I’ve made time to share in his fun and learning.
He has been using trial and error to balance the seesaw and complete each challenge card, but there is also a math to it. He’s not quite ready for that though (he’s only 4 – it’s never too young to start learning, right?!). The harder the challenge is, the more math and reasoning skills come into play. The challenge cards are numbered 1-40 and are also labeled Easy, Medium, Hard and Super Hard (10 of each level).
For now I’m enjoying watching him learn how force and balance work together with some of the easy and medium challenges, and know that with time he’ll learn the algebra behind it as well. He’s also having a fun time free-styling without the challenge cards!
Think you could complete the Super Hard balancing challenges?
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*Available at Target and Amazon for $17.99.