Take It Easy

LQ: 9

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Brain grade: 9.1
Fun score: 8.8

Game Type: ESRB Rating: N/A Platform/Console: , , LWK Recommended Age: 7+ Thinking Skills Used: , ,

iTunes

Take It Easy is a unique mix of a brain-teasing activities, with puzzle games consisting of tiles and numbers. Pieces are placed one at a time on the game board, with the purpose being to create continuous rows of the same number. Points scored depend on the numbers on the tiles as well as the number of tiles used to create the continuous row. Longer rows mean more points, while interrupted rows mean zero points. The difficulty of the levels progressively increase, as more board spaces and more tiles are added to the puzzles. Take It Easy offers three different game modes (classic, puzzle, and progressive) that allow the player to switch things up between challenges, and offers local and online multiplayer options. The game begins simple enough but eventually becomes quite challenging for younger players, so Take It Easy is suggested most appropriate for ages seven years and older.

 


THIS GAME IS GOOD FOR KIDS WHO NEED HELP WITH:

Planning

Developing a systematic approach for setting and achieving goals.

photo 3It’s practically impossible to finish levels in Take It Easy without carefully calculating each tile placement. Some levels require specific rows / designs to be created, making tile manipulation tricky. Forethought is even more critical when it comes to earning maximum points in a level. The honeycomb nature of the game board means that some rows can only consist of three tiles, while others may have six or more (depending on the size of the game board). Knowing that points are based on the number of continuous tiles in the row, it would be a waste to fill a long row with a small number, as larger numbers earn more points. Therefore, a strategy that places low-numbered tiles (such as ones) in the shortest rows ultimately allows the longer rows to be filled with high-numbered tiles (up to 9). Failure to look ahead and conceive a strategic layout of numbers opens the door to devastating point losses, and since tiles can't be moved once put down, placing one wrong tile in a row of otherwise perfect tile set makes the entire row worthless; with no points are earned. Unfortunately, one wrong move can have a domino effect and ruin some or all of the tangential rows. Of course, there are many ways to win a single level of Take It Easy, but the best way involves careful planning to ensure higher scores and less time wasted when levels need to be restarted.

Flexibility

Adapting and adjusting to changing conditions and expectations.

photo 5The player must be comfortable switching between different rules and strategies in order to do well in all parts of Take It Easy. Certainly, mental flexibility is required between game modes, as the Progressive Mode is timed while the Puzzle Mode is not, for example. Different stages call upon different methods of thinking and acting. However, the rules can also change within a single game mode. For example, in Progressive Mode, some levels require tiles to be placed adjacent to another tile already on the board - as opposed to free placement. Other levels introduce wildcard tiles, locked tiles, or even an already full board of tiles that need to be swapped around. Recognizing the new components within a level and understanding how to use or work around them represents an active mind that can adapt to new situations and overcome unforeseen circumstances.

Time Management

Being efficient and aware of our use of time and effort.

Within Progressive Mode, levels are timed and require a certain score to be reached before time has run out. This ups the challenge over the Puzzle Mode, limiting the amount of time spent strategizing the best possible tile placement. It's important, therefore, to monitor both the remaining time and the current score, to get an idea of how quickly the player should pace himself to beat the level. Although mulling over moves is important, spending too much to ensure that each tile is perfectly placed is not the way to go in Progressive Mode. Players need to think quickly and accurately in order to do well -- especially when bonus points are added for any leftover time once the level is won. Rushing too fast won't do much good either, as it lowers the player's chances of making smart decisions, possibly costing him to lose the level. Good use of Time Management skills means balancing speed and accuracy, and recognizing that not every decision will be perfect, but that decisions should still follow logic and strategy without too much time for hesitation.

Use this PlayTogether guide to learn how you can help your child to turn Take It Easy play time into a positive learning and relationship-building experience. To learn more about why playing games with your child is so important, check out our Science of Play page. 

Talk Before You Play

Take a minute to talk to your child about how the Planning, Flexibility and Time Management thinking skills work, and why they are important for success in school and at home.

Set Gameplay Goals

photo 2Unlike many apps, Take It Easy offers local and online multiplayer options above the traditional single player mode. Using an iPad, up to four people can play on the device at once. Or if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, two can play together head-to-head with a split screen. Another option is to battle it out amongst online friends. After you decide what mode will work best for you and your child, review the thinking skills utilized in this game and have fun using them while working towards the gameplay goals listed below.

Gameplay Goals:

  • Earn the "6 Progressive Stages" reward by clearing the first 6 stages in Progressive Mode.
  • Earn the "Puzzle Level 3" reward by solving enough puzzles in Puzzle Mode to unlock level 3.
  • Earn the "Score 175" (or higher if you're up to it!) reward by earning a score of 175 in Classic Mode.
  • Check out the other in-game Rewards and pick one you find interesting! A few examples include solving a puzzle with all vertical rows ("All Verticals") or using 7's, 8's, and 9's for the three longest stripes within a level ("High 5's").

Stop and Reflect

After you have completed most or all of the objectives above, take a moment to stop the game and talk with your child about how the game is exercising all three thinking skills.

  • Have your child explain the thoughts that went through his mind before putting down a tile when playing in Classic Mode. Since a tile can't be moved once placed, he needs to look ahead, consider other options, and evaluate his decision before putting the tile down. What effect does the honeycomb layout of the grid have on these decisions? Did he treat / use some tiles differently than others? How was Planning and decision-making even more important in Puzzle Mode, where the grid is already filled with tiles and he must create a specific pattern?
  • One of the best reasons to think ahead and create plans is so that tasks can be done better, and often faster, the first time around. Mistakes are reduced and inefficient or even useless methods can be identified (and thus never re-used). Planning is an extremely valuable life skill, so ask your child to identify what tasks or activities he believes would be near impossible to accomplish without forethought and planning. Then, ask his opinion on some fun scenarios to use Planning, like preparing for a new pet's arrival or a birthday party.
  • Have your child explain the major differences between the three game modes: Classic, Progressive, and Puzzle. Then have a discussion to explore the unique approach to each mode that your child employed. Was there any particular strategy that was universally appropriate for all three modes, or were they all different? Even within a single game mode, talk about how certain things, like the addition of a locked tile, demands changes to the thought process and requires adaptation to new modes of play.
  • In Take It Easy, Flexibility skills were important in being able to succeed in the varying objectives and game modes. Having an open mind makes recognizing different requirements between different tasks come more readily, and ultimately facilitates shifts in thinking so that you can respond most appropriately to the situation. In adults, this can be experienced when employers make major changes to a project that has been underway for quite some time already. For kids, they may find use for Flexibility skills when transitioning to a new grade with a new teacher, whom has different classroom rules than the previous teacher. Share with your child some of your own personal examples of Flexibility use as an adult, and then challenge him to think of examples for himself and other kids his own age.
  • In the game's timed mode, placing tiles to earn the required score before the clock hits zero isn't always easy. Reflect on the importance of balancing time between planning a layout to earn maximum points within the game. Talk about what you think would happen (or did happen) when rushing and focusing only on throwing tiles out there to earn points quickly, versus paying no attention to the time and just going with strategic layout planning. Is it better to strike a balance between the two?
  • Failure to use time efficiently and pay attention to deadlines in the game hindered success and made achieving goals more challenging and time-consuming. Using Time Management skills in the real world, like in the game, helps us meet important deadlines under pressure. Ask your child about any upcoming papers, projects, or exams. How is he already using time intelligently in preparation for the assignment? If he is unsure, brainstorm some ideas together. For a task that might be timed, like an in-class exam, talk together about how Time Management skills can be used, like coming back to harder problems after doing the easier ones. What happens if he spends too much time focusing on one hard problem?

Our Make it Work activities are designed to transform your child’s gameplay to real-world improvements in thinking and academic skills. If you’re just getting started with LearningWorks for Kids, we suggest you try them all to find which are the best for you and your child.

Introduce the Thinking Skill

Read over the Planning, Flexibility, and Time Management pages, and then take some time to introduce these thinking skills to your child.

Explain to your child that:

  • Planning is the thinking skill that helps us to develop a systematic approach for setting and achieving goals. It helps us to do things step-by-step and to complete long-term projects on time.
  • Flexibility is the thinking skill that helps us adapt to new situations, learn from mistakes and change what we are doing in order to deal with different challenges.
  • Time Management is the thinking skill that helps us complete tasks on time, finish things more quickly, and be efficient and aware of our use of time and effort.

Planning Activity

Encourage brainstorming as a tool in the planning process. Sometimes the best way to come up with a plan is to explore alternatives. Teaching and practicing brainstorming strategies can be very useful for a child who struggles with the Planning thinking skill. It’s important to recognize that brainstorming will likely be the first phase of planning. Teach your child the three steps of effective brainstorming. First, generate as many ideas as possible about what is to be accomplished or achieved in a limited amount of time. Next, answer a series of questions by creating a “web.” To create the web, use question prompts such as who, what, where, why, when, and how. Create a visual representation of the web on a piece of paper to show connections between your child’s answers. Sometimes it can be helpful to utilize some of the original ideas from the first brainstorming step in the web. Finally, generate a list of additional ideas regarding the topic based on steps one and two. This brainstorming approach can help with written assignments, planning an activity, and recognizing the necessary steps to completing a task.

Flexibility Activity

Make up a new game. Invent new games by slightly changing the rules, or by taking rules from one game and adding them to another. For example, play a memory game in which players must match opposite images, rather than ones that are alike. Play a basketball “shooting” game in which players get 2, 3, 4, or 5 points depending on the type of shot that is taken. You can even create some absurd challenges, like play horseshoes with a soccer ball, or trying to play baseball using a kickball and no gloves. You can even add a timed element to one of your child’s favorite games, changing the strategy needed to win. After playing, make sure to discuss with your child how he needed to apply different strategies as the rules changed.

Time Management Activity

photo 4Make Time Management a competition. One strategy to help children create a sense of urgency and awareness is to encourage them to compete against themselves or others. Typically it’s best to have a child compete against his or her own skill set, rather than the skill set of another. It may sometimes be useful to have your child compete against you as a parent, particularly in areas where he or she shows aptitude. Think about how you can make a game or competition out of time management. You could challenge your child to complete a task by the time it takes you to finish another task. This could help your child to become more efficient.

 

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