In our house, every Friday night is family game night. On this night, our family takes some time to engage in some fun. However, with an eight year-old and a five year-old, it is often difficult to find a game that is simple enough for the younger one to navigate yet still enjoyable for the older one to play. The one game that we have found that seems to please both kids is Candy Land.
If you haven’t played Candy Land recently, let me explain the basics. The game is played on a colorful game board which includes depictions of interesting characters like King Candy and Lord Licorice. The game path is clearly marked by a winding linear track of colorful spaces. Even young players grasp that a turn consists of flipping a color card which progresses your piece further down the track. As I noted before, it is easy enough for my five year-old, but challenging enough to keep my eight year-old interested.
The simplicity of Candy Land also played a role in the development of the Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge. When Allan and Heather Staker were designing the experience, they wanted something that was simple and easy to navigate for children entering second grade, yet still interesting to seniors in high school. While working with the developers to find the right balance, they realized that the secret was to create a student dashboard with the same feel as Candy Land.
The dashboard was designed so that kids could navigate through the learning challenge without too much adult supervision. Kids start each week by logging in and watching a short webisode about a team of young explorers and their ongoing quest for the missing Globe of Magellan. The video also hides several clues to the location of a real treasure that’s been buried somewhere on the planet. When the webisode finishes, the dashboard will show students the following:
- Learning Tasks – Each week, kids will be assigned different learning exercises focused on reading, writing, and math. The dashboard clearly shows the tasks ahead and provides simple links to the actual work.
- Progress Metrics – Like the board game Candy Land, the dashboard displays the progress your child has made that week with their reading, writing, and math work.
- End-of-Week Webisode – Completing the required assignments will unlock another webisode that continues the adventure and provides more hints and clues for your child.
Like Candy Land, Brain Chase is easy enough for kids to navigate and play, yet challenging enough that you will want in on the action as well. And why not? Like my family’s game night, engaging with your child in discussion about the treasure hunt may have the added benefit of bringing both of you closer together! And richer!