Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012
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Trainyard

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Stump students with innovative train-routing puzzler

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-7
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)
4

Take a look inside

4 images

Pros: Real-world concepts are presented along with nicely integrated tutorials.

Cons: Fine motor requirements are sometimes too tricky, and some gameplay concepts take a while to grasp.

Bottom Line: Superb combination of logic, real-world learning, and train play.

Trainyard is a train routing puzzle game that's easy to learn but hard to master. The goal: Get the color-coded trains from their outlets to their correct stations. As the game progresses, kids encounter new obstacles and techniques coupled with effective tutorials that pop up (usually just when needed) during play.

Kids create and test track configurations on a grid background until they find one that works. Trains run from outlet stations to goal stations at variable and easily controlled speeds. If the trains crash, players have to go "Back to the drawing board!" Double-tap to switch connections, and use erase mode to get rid of unwanted track. Sometimes kids have to send their trains on an indirect path to merge or cross over at just the right time; focus and concentration can be key.

 

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Real railway concepts like switching tracks, train car merging, crossovers, and collisions are covered here. Geometrical concepts such as symmetry and asymmetry, timing (based on counting squares), and color mixing make for a concept-packed experience. Kids earn stars for each puzzle completed, keeping them motivated. Levels named after Canadian provinces provide a bit of geography icing on the top. Very cool accessibility bonus: Color-blind players can label trains with letters. About 150 levels ramp up slowly, but the harder challenges can stump even puzzle-loving adults.

Standouts: The graphics are clean and attractive, and the interface is well-designed without a lot of distractions. Room for improvement: The game keeps scores for two players, though it would be nice to be able to change profile names.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Trainyard is an innovative puzzle game with clean, attractive graphics and a well-designed interface. The game is simple enough that a young child could play the easier levels, but the more advanced levels will challenge puzzle-loving adults.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
5

Kids can learn real railway concepts like switching track, train car merging, crossovers, and collisions. Geometrical concepts like symmetry and asymmetry, timing and color mixing make for a concept-packed experience.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Top-notch tutorials walk kids through each skill. The app does require a high level of fine motor skills, which may exclude some younger kids. The game can be adapted for color-blind players. Players can opt in to Apple's Game Center.


Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Charlie J. , Student
Student
5
Great puzzle game that stimulates critical thinking

The puzzles get incredibly difficult as they progress and completing all of them was addicting for me. I think it's perfect for advanced students who need to be challenged.

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