Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Q-bitz: A Virtual Skill-Building Blitz

Speed, manipulation, sharpening recognition... all are thrilling elements of Mindware's Q-bitz.   photo: Mindware

WHAT: Q-bitz  by Mindware
DOES: have fun while sharpening skills involving recognizing, manipulating with your hands, and using both of your hands to work together (in big talk: visual perception, bilateral coordination, visual motor)
INVEST: MSRP  $24.95
AGES: Suggested is 8+ ( it can go way lower when play is modified)
TOOLS: Holiday/Birthday Build-Uponner (there are add-ons and sequels), Lose and Win Gracefully, My Body Needs to Move, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Remember to Learn
EXPERT OPINION:  Aimee Prainito, Prainito Pediatric Therapy, Snellville, Georgia
Giveaway Details Below

One of the things I love about occupational therapists is how creative they are.  I guess they have to be because they are in the business of working on people's bodies and one size does not fit all.  They modify everything to make it work for their patients.  It can range from small actions like cutting a pencil into the golf club size to designing magical sensory playgrounds made to help kids do anything from calming down to building up trunk muscle tone.

Give an OT (that's what we call occupational therapists) a piece of paper and a little scotch tape and they can make a therapeutic tool out of it.  They probably don't need the tape even!  They are brilliant and that is why it is so very hard to write this review because after I talked to Occupational Therapist Aimee Prainito about Q-bitz, I had no idea how to tell you that this educational game is no ordinary educational game.  There seems to be no limits to its greatness but for the readers, I will try my best to make sense of enormous awesomeness that Aimee shared with me about Q-bitz.  Here goes:

Aimee said that Q-bitz is great for bilateral coordination.  I find bilateral activities to be calming for both me and Number 1 Son.

The Basics:
You have a bunch of little cubes that have different images on each side.  When turned and combined, it can become an image.   Thus, the game is of a player seeing a one-dimensional image and recreating it with his hands.   Sounds simple enough but then you have to remember that your opponents are doing the same thing and you have to get yours done first to win.

It might not sound like an original idea to you but that is probably what makes it so special.  The components of the game are so simple, you can pretty much do whatever you want.  Heck you can make up your own game. And when you play again on another day... you can play it a different way.   If you are really good at it, then it's almost like you're morally obligated to challenge yourself harder and to teach others how to play better.

This, to me, would be a game that I would highly be recommending to people. -Aimee Prainito, Occupational Therapist, Prainito Pediatric Therapy

If you want the speed without the competition, you can just use a timer. My youngest loved being timed (timer not included*).

There are so many things to do with it and so many good reasons why.  You are using all eight of the visual perception skills, Aimee had told me.   Apparently there are eight different skills within the umbrella of visual perceptual skills. Here are some of the juicier cherries I picked from all the amazing things she said:

Visual Sequential Memory:  In Round 3, you literally look at the card for just 10 seconds and then  everyone will try to recreate the image using their blocks - from memory. It's not so easy but it's definitely doable and fun.  This type of memory is important for learning letters and numbers.  It's what you use when you're memorizing a phone number.  (for those of us who do not speed dial everyone)

Notice that the images are on a 1:1 scale with the cubes (in a one-dimensional way).  That's great for the little ones!

Visual Form Constancy: 
A square turned 45 degrees is now a diamond but the shape is still the same.  Being able to recognize this is important because we have to be able to recognize things in different backgrounds or perhaps in a different size.  (just like handwriting, words in different contexts...)

Position in Space:  Oh, this one is big here.  You have more chances of winning if you have a sharper sense of where everything should be.  There are 16 cubes per each "plate" or player (Aimee thinks more than one player can use one set of cubes- yeah teamwork!).  Basically, in each round, you are deciding where all 16 cubes will be and you have to decide fast! Of most importance, Aimee believes that these are precursor skills to reading maps and even things like letter orientation (b and d). Wow!

Does the sequel seem harder or prettier or both?   photo: Mindware

There is so much more but we will have to wait until we review Q-bitz Extreme to learn about all the additional skills.  Yes, there is a sequel.  Actually, it's the sequel's sequel because Q-bitz came up with a 100-card extension pack and now there's also a whole new game of Q-bitz that features curvier lines that will likely leave me cross-eyed but if you have a child that just loves this kind of game, then you can start out with Q-bitz and keep building interest with the add-ons and the new sequel game or you can make a huge gift and give all three together for the holidays.  I think that is such a classy gift, don't you?

I would also like to stress what Aimee said about how different ages can play together.  Thus, I think that an extension pack or additional game might be nice.  I really like how some cards are harder than others.  I think that gives us parents who are trying to keep the family together, a little support since I can pre-select an easier card for my little guy and a harder card for my older one.   With different cards, we can still use the speed factor to motivate us.

Lastly, they are still, just blocks and blocks are fun.  "I like the size of the cubes because they’re small," Aimee told me.  "Everybody goes after the big chunky cubes because of the way their (kids) hands are but the reality of it is, you need the smaller stuff to get the refined work."   My younger son likes the size of them too.  In a way, they appear less intimidating.  They can manipulate the sides of the cube much faster since it is small.   My kids have also stacked them and made trains and made different designs using different color blocks.  I was not expecting this game to be a toy but it is!
Aimee works with a 3-year old using Q-bitz!  Cool!  photo: Aimee Prainito
 All in all, I just have to say that I really adore this game.  My younger son can play with it by himself and that is just so awesome.    Out of all the games in Mindware, Q-bitz definitely makes it into the top five.  Aimee had even stronger feelings, "I just loved it. I thought wow, I waited way too long to get that game.  I should have bought it years ago."  I feel the same way Aimee.  I feel the same way....

 NOW it's time to win your own Q-bitz!!   It will be shipped to addresses only in the U.S.  Follow the directions!  I need your thoughts as they help me steer the direction of Toys are Tools better.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Here is my Amazon link below. 

 Disclosure:  Toys are Tools has not been compensated by any company to release this information. A review unit was sent to Toys are Tools and an expert solely to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.


  1. Q-bitz extreme looks really neat

  2. I didn't even think about this as an OT tool. My three children have Essential Tremor. They all have it to varying degrees, however my daughter Maggie has it the worst. This is something that will never go away, and will get worse. She goes to someone in school for hand eye coordination, as well as OT and PT. It effects her everyday life, so anything we could do for her that doesn't look like therapy would be great. This product looks like so much fun and would still help her. I would love to win this for her, and my other children.

  3. Q-bitz extreme looks more interesting

  4. I love visual games like this that can be played alone or with someone. The sequencing is also a great help with math problems. Overall this looks like a great game. Thanks for featuring it.

  5. Fraction Formula Game.

  6. The Q-Bitz extreme looks more fun and challenging.

  7. Need, need, need, need.

  8. These games are really a nice for fun and its very neat....