Using games as teaching tools is such a popular practice in homeschool circles there’s actually a term for it: gameschooling. Have you heard of it? While gameschooling might conjure up images of a large family gathered around the dining room table, it doesn’t always look like that. There’s a place for single-player games, too, especially logic puzzles which teach deductive reasoning skills. My daughter particularly loves these sorts of challenges!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary Chroma Cube from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. Aveline’s sweatshirt is compliments of Primary.
Why use single-player games in a homeschool setting?
Single-player games make sense in our home, of course, since we were an only-child family until very recently. And since wee Lochlan is just several weeks old, we’ll be a single-student homeschool for quite some time yet.
But even if you have several students willing and ready to entertain each other as game partners, solo games can be a tremendous boon for fostering independence and critical thinking. (Timberdoodle, for instance, includes this particular game, Chroma Cube, in their 11th Grade homeschool curriculum kit. Games transcend grades, so we’re using it in our combo 3rd/4th grade year. Which reminds me. I owe you all a curriculum round-up post! Remind baby Lochlan to let me finish that…)
So how can single-player games work in your homeschool? You already know I’m a big advocate of encouraging kids to learn and work independently. Solo logic challenges are a big part of that.
Single-player games like Chroma Cube can ideally be used…
- …for a fun brain break or reward mid-day
- …as a quiet activity during afternoon rest time,
- …while one student is waiting for one-on-one instruction (this is happening a lot in our home right now — hello, newborn life!)
- …during long layovers or road trips,
- …as the hands-on portion of a customized logic and critical thinking curriculum (in 11th grade, Timberdoodle assigns Chroma Cube alongside the Critical Thinking Company’s James Madison logic workbook set)
These kind of games can be such a great diversion for situations where time seems to stretch on endlessly, too. One Christmas, we bought similar single-player logic puzzle games as gifts, and they ended up being passed around quite a bit during a family member’s hospital stay.
So what’s Chroma Cube? How does it work?
Chroma Cube has an attractive aesthetic: wooden cubes are set on edge in a triangle-studded plywood base, which also doubles as a storage spot for the challenge cards. My artist husband, who works at a design studio, said he could easily imagine this on the coffee table of a studio lobby. Chroma Cube gets major points for not being a plastic eyesore (fellow small space dwellers, rejoice!)
Each of the twenty-five challenge cards begins with just a handful of cubes in place, and ends once you’ve worked through the given clues to place each of the remaining blocks in their correct positions on the board.
The challenges increase in difficulty, which is expected, but they also build on each other. Unlike many other single-player logic games, you can’t simply bypass the easier levels and go straight to the harder challenges. If you did, you’d be missing out on crucial clues needed to solve the more difficult levels, and the game wouldn’t work. I especially liked this requirement, since it encourages perseverance, patience, and that all-elusive stick-to-it-iveness.
At first, I was a little disappointed the game only came with 25 challenge cards, but then I read “the blocks can be arranged in 479,001,600 different combinations”. Yikes! Almost five hundred million! And there are often additional correct solutions for each challenge beyond what’s shown on the back of the card. (I don’t think we’ll reach Chroma Cube’s limit anytime soon.)
I’ve heard from others that the numerous shades of green (mint, emerald, and teal) were difficult to distinguish, but as an art-minded family who uses the mega-set of Prismacolor pencils and regularly differentiates between things like Peacock Blue and Imperial Violet, this wasn’t a sticking point for us. If it is a distraction for you, you can simply use paper and tape to label each cube with correct color name (a printed color legend is provided along with the game instructions.)
Is Chroma Cube appealing to kids?
The package suggests an age range of 12+, but my eight-year-old jumped right in. We long ago abandoned suggested ages and grades on just about everything. Thinking beyond grade levels and moving at one’s one pace is a nice little perk of homeschooling. There’s even a way to adapt Chroma Cube for preschoolers!
Since my eight-year-old has been playing Chroma Cube a lot this week, I asked her to share her own review.
“It is very fun. You have to think a lot which makes it very useful for school, especially if you’re doing a logic class.
The puzzles are challenging, but if you think, and don’t just work on one clue at once, you can solve it. You might think a cube will be in a spot, but when you remember another clue, you realize it can’t be there.
The colors are fun and vibrant, and the cubes are easy to work with. It has twenty-five puzzles. All the pieces of Chroma Cube are made out of wood except for the cards, and the cubes are large enough to be non-chokable.
This is a one-player game that is very compact. For instance, you could take it to the doctor’s office if a sibling had a check-up and you had to come and you needed something to do. It is very easy to set up and to put away.” -Aveline, age 8
I had to laugh at “very easy…to put away.” We’ve been working on the putting away skill
recently for eight years straight.
And I don’t think it’s easy to put away — I’d actually recommend a separate small drawstring bag to store all the cubes. Getting the plastic cover to stay on the cubes in order to slide the game back into the original box is cumbersome, and definitely wouldn’t work if you planned to take Chroma Cube on the road with you.
Is Chroma Cube a good fit for gifted kids who need extra challenge?
I definitely think so; Chroma Cube gets a thumbs up from us. If you’re homeschooling a neurodiverse kid with an eidetic memory — a student who just seems to “get it” and can memorize large chunks of information seemingly without effort — including challenges which require slowing down and working through multistep problems is so, so important. Chroma Cube fits this need. I particularly appreciate the sequential approach required to complete the puzzles, and can already see how this game is encouraging perseverance.
How about you? What other games do you include in your homeschool? Are single-player logic games part of your repertoire? Link up your favorite games in the comments below; I’d love to see.
Meanwhile, I’ll be over here scouting the Timberdoodle games collection for Christmas gift ideas!