Thursday, July 23, 2015

SimplyFun Shape Whiz Board Game Review

My family had the privilege of trying SimplyFun Shape Whiz for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

SimplyFun is a company that is dedicated to providing fun products that also teach important skills. These award winning educational games help families spend more quality time together and create meaningful relationships. SimplyFun has games for all ages and and stages, even ones especially for special needs and autism.

My family loves all types of games; whether it be board games, card games, video games, relay races, competitions, etc. We love testing our skill, wit, speed, and strategy. Games are great opportunities to get together with family and friends and have a great time. They help us learn how to: take turns, think ahead, make choices, have consequences for our actions, cooperate, work as a team, and be a good sport. We love family game night because it strengthens family ties & bonds, and builds memories. We also love educational games for homeschool and we always like getting new games to add to our collection because it means a chance to try something different.

My family got the opportunity to try a SimplyFun game called, Shape Whiz. Shape Whiz is a fast paced card game that teaches 2D geometry, shape measurement, and math symbols. It is for 2 to 4 players and is geared towards ages 10 and up. With this board game for kids you learn about all kinds of Geometry: signs and symbols, angles, curves, sides, line of symmetry, parallel lines, polygon, same or equivalent, approximate area, area of a rectangle, area of a square, area of a triangle, area of a parallelogram, area of a trapezoid, area of a circle, approximate perimeter or circumference, perimeter of a polygon, circumference of a circle, and Pythagorean Theorem.

Contents of Shape Whiz

Included in the game's box are 80 Shape Cards, 40 Whiz Cards, and an instruction booklet on the rules of how to play. The Shape Cards have two different sets; 45 total simple shapes (9 blue shapes in 5 sizes) and 35 total complex shapes (7 green shapes in 5 sizes). These have a shape on a grid on the front and shape properties on the back. Whiz Cards tell you a geometry clue and question for helping you to find the correct Shape Card. Whiz Cards are double sided. The instruction booklet has nice color diagrams and helps you with the game play. The main points it goes through and tells us are: what's in the box, game objective, game set up, game play, game end, principles of geometry, and credits.

Shape Whiz Game Objective

The objective of the game and layout is fairly simple. You can play Shape Whiz one of two different ways. You can use both the green and blue shape cards for advanced play or just the blue shape cards for a simpler version of the game. Each player gets a stack of shape cards and puts down three of them in front of them facing up so that you can see the shape of each. Then a Whiz Card from the deck is played in the center of the table. The objective of the game is to race your opponent(s) to find the correct shape from all the available shape cards facing up that matches the geometry clue or question on the Whiz Card in play. Everyone playing must accept that the shape card picked first is a match or flip the card over to check the shape properties on the back to make sure that it is. The first person that gets rid of their Personal Shape Card Stack wins. The games are supposed to be only take about 10-15 minutes.

The above math error we found in the Shape Whiz instruction booklet and the correct math in Google.**

My boys are just the right ages for this game since they are 13 and 14. They have touched on all of these geometry concepts in their math books, but needed some review. Before we started we reviewed all of the instruction booklet. We went over everything including the geometry principles. Right away we found a error within the booklet. On page 7 of the rules booklet, down at the bottom, it says, "Circumference of a Circle: C = 2 * π * r² (π ≈ 3.14)". It is supposed to say Circumference of a Circle: C = 2 * π * r (π ≈ 3.14). **

Also we thought that when it comes to the shapes with curves, the rules for if a shape has sides and how many were a little arbitrary. The game refers to circles and tear drop shapes as having no sides and a half circle/oval as having two. Some mathematicians say that a circle has infinitely many infinitesimal sides. The question, "How many sides does a circle have?", is too ambiguous to have a definite answer. "Side" is a term that, in my honest opinion, should only be reserved for polygons, a plane figure with at least three straight sides and angles. But the booklet does spell out their definition of the words angles, curves, different length sides, line of symmetry, parallel lines, polygon, same or equivalent, and side. Their definition of a side is "a line between two points", so if you go with that definition for the game you are good to go, just remember that some of their definitions don't always apply for some geometry.

Shape Whiz card game in play

My boys are always pretty competitive with each other. At first, arguments broke out over who was first putting their card down and whose card was correct. The shape properties on the back of the Shape Cards were confusing to them sometimes. My boys were over thinking everything which made the game drag out a lot longer than it was supposed to. They were also having trouble reading the greater than and less than symbols out loud correctly. Frustration levels were pretty high and I had to jump in the middle of the game sometimes to play referee. Once they got the hang of how to play better they did calm down and have a better game.

I wish I could say that this game was perfect. I wanted so much to give it a better review, but the math in it is a little flawed. I know that it is hard to please everyone when you are a company. Shape Whiz is a product that still has a lot of potential to be great in my opinion. It just needs a bit of reworking.

UPDATE: **I did contact SimplyFun and they have given me a new PDF copy of instructions with the circumference error fixed. Those of you that already have the game can get a new PDF version from the company or just fix the error in your own booklet.

If you do decide to purchase Shape Whiz, you can for $24. If Homeschooling you can join SimplyFun's program for Homeschoolers. Save 15% on every purchase for a year for just $19, receive 2 FREE games when you join and get access to other great benefits and specials.

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