Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review + Giveaway: What's It?: Do You See What I See?

Be Warned: Even Though It's Not ME-AGAINST-YOU, Cooperative Games are Tough and Competitive!  I love that!

WHAT: What's It? by Peaceable Kingdom
INVENTORS: Rosie Roberson and Joyce Johnson
DOES: work cooperatively as a team while still being competitive, be rewarded for knowing your teammate
INVEST:  $24.99
8+ (Can be modified to fit younger audiences without compromising on the fun)
TOOLS:  Flexibility is My Superpower, Express Yourself
EXPERT OPINION: Susan Schwartz, MAEd, Learning Specialist, Friends Seminary
GIVEAWAY Details Below: Win your own box of What's It? Wonder!

Deceptively Difficult (But in a Furtively Fun Way)

What's It? is definitely a DIFFERENT game. Basically, you get points for trying to visualize an object in the same way as your play partner would visualize it.  If you can guess what your friend is thinking then your team gets a point (and your pal has to be thinking the same thing as you.)  If not, the "Doodler" (the villain) gets it. Sound easy?  No, it's definitely not but look at this game, there is nothing about it that says, "I'm tough" and that is very smart game design. See my pic below.

EXAMPLE A Match all three answers with your teammate and you score.  For every non-match, the Doodler gets points.

The first time I played this game, I played it with my older son who is pretty good at seeing things out of somewhat blobby-looking amorphous shapes.  However, trying to guess what I thought when I saw the same shape was a lot harder for him. It was hard to know what he was thinking as well.  Basically the Doodler kicked out butts that day but still I really enjoyed seeing what he saw in these strange blobs.

I wanted to get to know more about the learning opportunities in this game so I asked veteran learning specialist, Susan Schwartz for help.   One of the biggest questions in my mind was what is so good about being able to see something out of a blob.   

It definitely helps to have the dice give you a category of what to think about.   However, there is a "?" category too and that has got to be really hard.

Seeing Something from Nothing a.k.a. Creativity
"I think it helps build creativity and it also teaches children to look around and see details," said Susan.  Well, I definitely agree with her that it can help build creativity but details? There aren't any details in a blob- which is why we call it a blob, right?

Susan clarified, "It's seeing parts of things so then you have to relate it to what you see in real life."  When I asked Susan why this was an important skill, she said that what happens to a child would be that he/she won't always see all the details or see the bigger picture. As kids we practice that when we take a walk outside and see circles and squares everywhere.  Then as teens, we look for right angles in triangles and squares.  It's a part-whole thing.

You can use them for storytelling too- like Rory's Story Cubes? Maybe?  Why not?  They can do anything you want them to do. 

And what about that bigger picture?  Ahhh... clearly, that is important.  When we can't see the bigger picture, we lose perspective.  Gosh, if I am not saying the words "executive functioning" this year, then I am most likely talking about "taking perspective."  Taking perspective is so key.  It's why my kid gets in trouble sometimes or when my husband gets annoyed with me.  

Perspective taking. Perspective taking. Perspective taking. 
For example, when I tell my kid to clean up, he needs to take my perspective or else he will likely be called back to do it over so I tell him, "When you think you're done cleaning the bathroom, look at them with MY eyes before you say you finished."  (This method is not fool-proof but it does help!)

He saw hair.  I saw the fish.  Oh boy, this is hard but still I'm happy he saw hair!  I think that's cool!

I can say it over and over again but that doesn't mean that my kids are going to get it that fast.  But for me, there are few things more important that teaching this very important skill.  I ask Susan to help me think this out and she said it was important for kids to learn how to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see the world from their eyes. "That's good because it builds flexibility."  According to Susan, this kind of flexibility helps kids out in social situations and also for problem-solving.
EXAMPLE B: What do you think this is or better yet? What do you think I think it is?  Oh my the way, did I tell you that there are some big laughs in this game?  It's all pretty G-rated so no worries!
How Expert Learning Specialists like Susan Use This Game...

While this game is just full of pictures, Susan uses this for working on ... of all things... spelling!  Because when you play this game in accordance with the rules, you have to write down three words that you think your teammate will come up with. To practice spelling of a particular word, she'll use the same card twice on different occasions.  Gosh, I love Susan.  She's such a good teacher!

Another great way that Susan uses this game is when she plays with kids under 8, she asks them to draw their answers instead of writing them.  I loved this idea!  When I played with my older son, he used words but my little one and I played by using the picture cards to create a picture that the teammate might do as well.

My son is obsessed with subways but I think we would have matched if we made more pictures.   But we were just fooling around that day.  This is what is good about What's It?  The materials are rich... You can do anything.

I mentioned to Susan that my little one was currently having trouble imagining pictures coming out of basic shapes as what I saw in the book Not A Box by Antoinette Portis.  She said, "Well I would use the analogy of being a detective."  She gave further examples of what to say such as 
  • What is the mystery? 
  • The box is a box but if you put wheels on it.... 
  • Let's try and use those detail clues to be a detective to figure it out!
Whether you are a blob-uncovering detective or trying to read your teammates mind, What's It? really is a very unique and very delightful family game.  Even though by the recommended age of 8, most kids will not meltdown from loss, the cooperative nature of this game is one of the very few non-sportsy ways to really sharpen the skills of teamwork, right?  How cool is that piece?!?! Who says you have to be athletic to have good teamwork skills?  With that aspect alone, What's It? becomes even more valuable to school and other social settings.  I hope to see more games like this everywhere!

EXAMPLE C: This is my favorite!  Can you think of what I would think?  Throw out three answers.  C'mon!  Let's Play!

You actually receive doodle dry erase plates, 150 image cards and a bunch of dry erase markers too!

And now let's play!  Win this! Win this!  This is a gem!  Try solving A,B, and/or C above to get more entry points!

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.   
educational toy, best educational game, best educational toy, learning tools, toys for learning, toys are tools, child development, therapeutic toys, special needs toys, gifted children toys, games for gifted kids, 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to get it on Amazon? Use my link to support TAT!

Read my other cooperative game review of Seeds for the Birds from Peaceable Kingdom!  I totally adore this game for little kids (and me).  There aren't really any chokeable pieces so it's good for a family with a baby at home.
Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised. 



  1. Mine are 3 and 5 and my 5 year old always tries to win and gets upset we talk to him and work with him he is doing better but it really bothers him to loose.Mainly sibling rivalry he doesn't care to loose playing with friends. The play Hungry Hungry Hippos Duck Duck Goose all kinds of kids games

    1 HAIR
    2 STRING

  3. I'll take on example C: 1. spaghetti noodle 2. licorice string 3. jump rope

  4. thanks for trying. isn't this fun?

  5. thanks a million for playing!

  6. My son is 6, he's bright but he also has ADHD. He gets upset at losing sometimes but he doesn't mind losing to his parents. But when it comes to playing with friends or just other kids, he either has to assume this helper role or take on a learner role to play a win/lose game. So these cooperative games look really good to me. Do you have a game from this company that is good for a six year old? What is cheese chase? It looks like Seeds for the Birds is for younger kids. Would love to know so I can set out some games for the kids and their cousins on Thanksgiving.

  7. Jennifer Astemborski PierceNovember 1, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    My son is 4yrs old and he does get upset when he loses but he is getting better the more we play. :)

  8. Jennifer Astemborski PierceNovember 1, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Example B looks like poo lol

  9. I would define a learning disability as anything that would get in the way learning and yes I would consider ADHD to be a learning disability to a certain extent. My son has ADHD and it takes a long time for him to be able to settle himself down enough to concentrate on what he is doing.

  10. Mineshift.. it looks like fun. (Gianna)

  11. My 8 year old is OK with losing with adults....but gets upset with her peers.....

  12. B- I see a meringue - think I am hungry!

  13. I just figured out that while I'm making dinner, my daughter can sit in a laundry basket and read books. It gives her safe boundaries and helps keep us both sane during a stressful time. A peapod would fit her much better as she is 11 years old and growing daily! So, my favorite in the tool box is the peapod!

  14. I think a learning disability is anything that gets in the way of learning like brain development or even behavior management. Anything that makes learning difficult is a disability.

  15. I have no idea the difference between phonemic and phonetics but I'd love to learn! I'm just learning that my daughter needs help with executive functioning and it makes so much sense! Thank you!

  16. I'm thinking the Peapod might be a favorite - because I think my deep-pressure seeking daughter would love it! I've also heard amazing things about Me Moves.

  17. I think a learning disability is a disorder that presents a person with specific challenges in one or more areas of learning.

  18. And, yes, I would think that ADHD would fit that definition as well. It certainly can present challenges for learning and daily functioning.

  19. Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds in spoken language. Phonics is using knowledge of the letter and sound correspondences to recognize words in print.

  20. A learning disability is a difference in neurology which results in having challenges in obtaining or retaining information. ADHD definitely falls into this category. Phonemic awareness is the auditory recognition of sounds whereas phonics is used in decoding the written word. My favorite tool is the visual timer watch.

  21. Barb @ A Life in BalanceNovember 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    My youngest, 5, gets mad which I expect with the age. My 10 year old really struggles with losing while his 8 year old handles losing with more maturity.

  22. Oldest has special needs and games have been to hard and frustrating for him. But this game seems fun and accessible. Very excited :)

  23. Example c: hair, ribbons, pasta???

  24. I grew up being told I had a learning difficulty because I learned differently from the other kids in my class. I do think ADHD is a real disability. Everyone learns differently.

  25. Phonics is a great way to learn about the alphabet and how to arrange letters. Learning with phonics books (Leapfrog) have really helped my daughter understand the alphabet and how to spell.

  26. I love the board games offered! I really want to start playing board games with my kids because I know they would have so much fun and learn a lot. I know my kids would be most excited about the pea pod though.. who wouldn't be?

  27. My kids are young so we don't play too competitively. I actually alter some rules so that they understand how to play and as they get used to it start adding in the original rules until they fully get it. It's fun to make it slowly more challenging. They don't mind losing if it means playing another round!

  28. c. String. Hair. yarn. ?? Haha, this would be so fun to play!

  29. My oldest son gets upset when he doesn't win. Especially when he plays with his brother. I think it's because he is a perfectionist and it makes him feel like he didn't get the game 'right'. We've had to explain the difference between a game of skill and a game of chance. He's getting better.

  30. Example C looks like 1. Yarn, 2. Spaghetti, 3. Dog leash.

  31. I think my daughter would really enjoy a pea pod so that is my favorite. I'll take an adult size one too ;)

  32. My favorite item is the Peapod. I could see my sons using this all the time.

  33. I define learning disability when there is difficulty learning anything. I think ADHD can be a contributing factor to a learning disability but not necessarily the learning disability. For instance, we have heard that many children with ADHD struggle with learning to read mainly due to focus issues but that is not the case with every child with ADHD. Some are able to focus and read easily but struggle in other areas.

    I think my son would love the Tran Quill pencils. He loves colored pencils for drawing and can sit drawing pictures for hours.

  34. Cool game. It's very similar to this other home made activity I play with my kids ( age 5+): .