Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Pix Mix Uses the First Dimension to Train Kids' Brains

There are six images here.  Can you identify them in under 60 seconds?  GO!

WHAT: Pix Mix by Mindware
DOES: an educational game that allows you to modify the level of difficulty very easily, thus allowing more ages to play; helps a child practice skills in visual discrimination and part-whole relationships
INVEST: MSRP  $19.95
AGES: Suggested is 8+ ( it can go lower when play is modified)
TOOLS: Foment Love of Language, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Lose and Win Gracefully
EXPERT OPINION: Susan Schwartz, MAEd, Learning Specialist, Friends Seminary
Giveaway Details Below

Numbers 1 and 2 are very similar in many ways but one clear difference between them is how they see things.  Number 1 Son can spot an thumbnail sized egg on concrete pavement from many yards away.  Number 2 Son can't seem to find his backpack on the floor because his jacket was half-covering it.  I know Number 1 is older than Number 2 but this is likely a difference between them that they will have for a lifetime.  

However, surprisingly, after receiving Pix Mix, I found that both of my sons really liked this game and even though it was heavy on visual discrimination, even Number 2 enjoyed it immensely.  I dare say he enjoyed it more than his older brother whom everyone identifies as a "good spotter."

It's really easy with just two line drawings on top of each other.  For the younger ones, you can start out simple.

Pix Mix is a great game because it can be enjoyed by many.  Why? "I love the way you can modify the complexity,"  said Susan Schwartz, a veteran learning specialist at Friends Seminary who had helped us identify the many wonderful points about another Mindware game, Mine Shift.

When it comes to games, Susan is the one who is a "good spotter."    The ease in which you can modify this game is just terrific.  I am so grateful for it because if my son really can not find his backpack because his jacket is half-covering it then Pix Mix is a great educational game to play.  

Susan pointed out to me that these pictures are 1- dimensional.  I never even thought about that but to kids, it does make a difference. 
Now there are 4 line drawings on top of each other.  Can you still see it?

"I think it really stretches the child’s visual discrimination skills and part-whole relationships," said Susan about Pix Mix.  She explained how it is simple to look at a single picture and just name it.  However, part-whole relationships are different.  "You look at all the parts and all the details but when its embedded with another picture or more than two pictures.  You have to look at details and make decisions of what you see and how those pieces go together to form a whole."

Pix Mix suggests that you use six cards but you don't have to.  When it is your turn, you might use less. 

Even though it can be difficult to look at six line drawings on top of each other.  That's not actually the only hard part.  "Children who are younger are more involved with active 3D objects.  And as you go to school, and you learn more and more, you’re involved with objects that are flat and objects in only two dimensions," Susan said.  "So you are looking at a real cup and a picture of a cup and matching them together.  A 2 or 3 year old can do that.  A 7 year old can look at a globe and walk down the street and look at a flat map and realize that it’s all in the same place.Susan said that it's all a developmental sequence. 


Here is something else to consider.  Susan said, "The line drawing of a violin doesn’t even have all the details so you have to have a mental representation so that taps into visual memory and that also taps into vocabulary development because you have to know about these different parts."   Wow!  No wonder it is for ages 8 and up!   But still, my 5 year old loved the game when I gave him just three-four cards at a time.  
You could use a timer or not, Susan advised.  It's really up to you.  photo: Mindware

Here is another interesting note.  Susan pointed out that the shape and size of all the objects is the same. See the photo above.   The pencil and the Eiffel Tower are the same size.  Basically, it looks really simple but it's complicated.  I love that!  That's very inviting for kids who might get overwhelmed by complex looking things.

Eight cards!  Wow!  See! It can be tough.  But six is what the game recommends.

"If you were a teacher of special ed students, you could introduce them to 3 dimensional objects like a violin, a telephone, a football, and then you could show them photos of those objects so then they’re flat representations then you could them drawing of those objects and then you can show them the line drawings," said Susan.  I never really thought about things that way but it makes sense.  Some children do have trouble in this area.  I think it helps to expand their "vocabularies" as Melissa Sweet told me a long time ago when it comes to why drawing is important.   This is similar.

Number 1 Son made this stack for her.   And then he timed her!  On her first try, she got four out of six and she's almost 14!!  So it ain't easy but agin, it doesn't have to be hard.
Words are just as important as pictures in Pix Mix.  I told him that he didn't have to have correct spelling but writing instead of speaking can still be harder.   My son liked Pix Mix  a lot and so he insisted on writing it all out. 

Susan outlines many great aspects of this game but what I really love is Susan's signature style of viewing games.  That is, she never lets you forget the big picture or the big Pix Mix.  She told me that we can work on all these skills we talked about but, "Sometimes you do have to step back and look at the real world and walk around and say this is a chair, now let’s look at a photo of a chair, now let’s look at a picture of a chair."  It might sound simple to you but if you look at these photos, some of them really encourage discussion  because some of those drawings do not seem to be part of our daily vocabulary and thus naming them when they are presented a bit differently can be challenging.  I really wondered what my child was thinking when he saw pictures of a telephone circa 1980s, needle and thread, clothespin, horseshoe, etc.  

Susan and her students had fun with this game.  "They like choosing what they wanted and putting it in the little pockets to give to their partner."  photo: Mindware

Not long ago, my son was answering a math word problem...  John had three rolls of film that could take 36 pictures.  How many pictures can he take altogether?  My son then asked me, "Hey Mom, what's a roll of film?"  Sigh.... In high school I had a photography class complete with darkroom and smelly chemicals and expensive Kodak paper.  He has Picasa or Microsoft Paint or a variety of iPad apps to help him make any kind of picture he wants.   Times have changed and with it should also come new understandings and new experiences but us parents and teachers can provide the context!   Pix Mix pictures are definitely worth talking about.
Look closely, this is part of the giveaway.  Play with us to increase your chances of winning!!   Don't worry, I'm not timing you!  Hint: toys, games, and tools

NOW it's time to win your own Pix Mix!!   Look carefully at above photo for big bonus point question.  Come on, play with us for just a minute.   One winner will win a game of Pix Mix and it will be shipped to addresses only in the U.S.  Follow the directions!   Don't give away your answer.  Only correct answers will count. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait to see if you've won? If you're shopping, use my Amazon link below and support Toys are Tools.   Also, if you are buying a nice-sized gift for the holidays, you may want to add on the Pix Mix expansion pack ($12.95 MSRP) which is new this year.

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



  1. looks interesting! i don't know of any game like it...
    beyondthewindow at ymail dot com

  2. dart, rocking horse, soccer ball, scales, shovel.
    beyondthewindow at ymail dot com

  3. soccer ball, chess piece, rocking horse, dart, shovel

  4. Looks very interesting and I don't think I know of anything similar

  5. I can't think of anything similar since everything is on top of each other.

  6. It looks like a fork.

  7. soccer ball, dart, rocking horse, shovel, chess piece (king?)