Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2014
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Thinkrolls

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Fun physics platformer teaches, engages young elementary students

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Grades
Pre-K-2 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: No scores and no penalties means kids can take risks and learn from failure.

Cons: Kids have to unlock levels one at a time, which requires quite a bit of playing.

Bottom Line: Highly engaging game packs in physics learning and puzzling fun.

Up to six players can have profiles on a device, which makes Thinkrolls a great station activity for classrooms with a few shared devices. Kids can work through a few levels as brain-building exercises. Thinkrolls is also fun enough to offer for a game or free-play activity.

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Thinkrolls is a preschool-friendly physics platformer that's addictively fun for all ages. No instructions are provided, so kids have to think critically and employ physics logic to figure out how to solve each level. Each device holds profiles for six players, with challenge levels customized to be easy or hard.

Kids start by choosing a ball from several spunky choices. They then work their way through a dozen or so levels for each chapter, rolling the ball along a path, getting through various obstacles. Chapter 1 introduces a cookie that must be eaten to get it out of the way, and Chapter 7 combines skills learned at prior levels and has kids looking several moves ahead as they use elevators to time their moves. Kids have to figure out how to get past obstacles without getting stuck, but each level can be replayed. If kids do get stuck, they just hit the restart circle to start over. The reward comes from completing each level successfully rather than from earning points or penalties, so kids are free to experiment and learn.

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With seven chapters comprising about a dozen levels, each introducing a different physics concept through familiar objects, there's quite a bit to keep kids challenged. As they play, kids can unlock new characters and choose which to roll through each level. Thinkrolls is an extremely fun, but totally educational, activity for kids. Failure isn't an option -- kids get as many chances as they need with no penalty. Each level builds on the one before, allowing kids to master one concept before introducing a new challenge. The full-of-personality Thinkroll characters appeal to kids of all genders, challenging them with thought-provoking fun.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

With balls that show an impressive variety of personalities, and challenges that get kids thinking without overwhelming them, this manages to be great fun as well as educational.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids learn, hands-on, such physics concepts (without the vocabulary) as buoyancy, synchronizing movements, and Newtonian physics as they experiment in a game-like environment. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Challenges can be adapted to make them easy or hard, and six profiles can be set up and kids' progress saved on a single device. By design, no help or direction is offered, so kids have to think critically.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Jason G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
4
Awesome and engaging app to teach patience and problem-solving.

Thinkrolls teaches both patience and problem-solving skills in a very fun, cute and engaging way. The app involves moving or rolling a cute, round character down a maze of obstacles in order to catch and unlock a different cute, round character. The app is aimed at kids ages 3 - 9, with two levels of difficulty. The easy level has 90 mazes, while the hard level has 90 slightly more complex mazes. The mazes are grouped together by different special components that are introduced throughout the game. For example, in one set of mazes, players have to eat through cookies to navigate through the maze. In subsequent levels, players have to drop boulders to break through floors, put out fires with blocks of ice, and use elevators to move up and down. It is a great way to encourage problem-solving with gradually increasing levels of complexity.

So far, I haven't found anything negative about the app.

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