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Think-ets, tiny trinkets for imaginative play! Review by Donna Campos

Think-a-lot Toys
1600 Zamia Avenue
Boulder, CO 80304

Think-ets are neatly packaged sets of miniatures intended to spark a wide variety of different games. Each pack of Think-ets includes a unique assortment of 15 miniature trinkets from around the world. They come in a drawstring carrying pouch that is approximately 3 x 5 " inches when laid flat. A folding booklet of information explains the ten games that can be played using the miniatures, including

  •  What's Missing?
  •   What's Your Story?
  •   What's Moved?
  •   Who's Last?
  •   What Is It?
  •   A-Z
  •   What's the Fastest, the Rarest, Your Favorite?
  •   What Were They?
  •   What's Similar or What's Different?
  •   What's New?

Three different sets (red, blue, or green) are available, with no two sets exactly alike. Think-ets have a range of uses and could be blended into a homeschool routine as a story starter, visual memory practice for all ages, simple game breaks, or to improve observational skills through various senses. Designed for anyone from age 8 to 108 and beyond, the small pieces are not safe around young children, but they are incredibly fascinating to older ones. The miniature treasures are of good quality and come from all over the world. Tiny copper ladles, wire potato mashers, straw hats, and more are hand-made by artisans in Mexico. Hand-turned wooden chalices, green bottles, and mugs are made by a crafters guild in Germany. Some treasures are semi-precious gems from South Africa, representing the beauty of our natural world. And the miniature books have real pages--ours even had a legible title. 

The instructions for the ten games are short and easy to understand. Additional lesson plans are available from the company's website in the "educators" section. Lessons range in length from four to ten pages, and they include classroom instruction, objectives, additional resources, and extension activities. The games build visual and tactile skills as well as imaginative story telling ability, alphabetization skills, and knowledge of the various pieces. 

Think-ets are incredibly convenient to carry along to any location. The small size and the drawstring pouch make them travel friendly. Our children love Think-ets, as much for the creative game ideas as for the adorable miniatures. Who doesn't love a tiny replica of an everyday object? Our set included a tiny wooden snowman, a movable wrench, a tea cup on a saucer, a miniature Hamlet book, a small apple, and more. About half of the items were common household objects. We would have preferred to see more unique items, but the overall value of the game is still tremendous. Our children could play on equal footing regardless of age, as the games are based on creativity rather than vocabulary ability or academic level. Even adult friends and family enjoyed the games while waiting for meals in restaurants, watching soccer games, or simply visiting around a coffee table. Families with younger children would be wise to place the mesh pouch inside an additional non-mesh zippered pouch to avoid enticing small fingers. We played completely supervised with our children as young as four, but we would certainly never suggest playing without supervision or with children who are still placing items in their mouths. Our only frustration with the game was that the folded instruction booklet is difficult to fit back into the pouch. 

The basic idea of Think-ets is to study a set of items, have someone change the set in some way, and then try to identify what was changed. Our family enjoyed playing "What's New?" which involved the addition of an item to a studied set. The children enjoyed stumping their siblings with "What's Moved?" and "What's Missing?" As a parent, I appreciated the creativity inspired by "What's Your Story?" Even my four-year-old offered story ideas. "What Is It?" improved the sense of touch in a new way as we studied treasures and then had one from the set placed in our hands to decipher. And the classification games of "What's Similar?" and "What's Different?" were wonderful reasoning games for our son on the autism spectrum; he broadened his understanding of several household items. I plan to purchase the other two available sets; a broader collection will offer even more fun. The cost of a Think-ets set is minimal, and it will get your family thinking, giggling, and using their imaginations far more than most games on the market today. The available lesson plans greatly intensify the educational value. Think-ets is a game that goes with you, grows with you, and improves thinking skills--an incredible combination in a convenient little pouch.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009