The Best Educational Games and Toys of 2017: Inchimals

Looking for the perfect educational games to get your young learners this Christmas? Check out our review of Inchimals.

I really love telling people about products I love. Seriously. We have a fancy grocery store nearby that sells my #1 favorite food in all the world — these Amish recipe pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. The other day I bought some to take to a party and I ran in to a friend of mine in the parking lot. I literally opened the package and gave him one because they are SO GOOD! I knew he just had to try them. So here I am to tell you about something I am just as enthusiastic about, Inchimals.

What is it?

I am not sure how to describe Inchimals. Is it a toy? Is it a game? Is it a learning tool? Is it math facts practice? Umm, yes, yes, yes, and yes. My six-year-old got these and LOVES them. She played with her Inchimals for several hours the first day she got them and several days since. The product contains sturdy wooden blocks that have adorable animals painted on two of the sides. Each animal block is a different length and represents a number from 1 to 12. The one-inch block is a ladybug, the two-inch block is a mouse, continuing on up to a 12-inch block, which is a giraffe. On each of the other long sides there is a ruler. On one of the short sides, there is a dot matrix representing the number and the other short side has the number itself.

 

How do you play with it?

Inchimals comes with a spiral bound, laminated notebook and a dry erase marker. Each page contains a math problem written in the animal symbols. For example, Ostrich + Ladybug = ______. The child stacks the Ostrich block and the Ladybug block together and then finds the animal that equals their combined height. In this case, the correct block is elephant so the child draws the elephant as the answer. Then, below they can write the number sentence by using the numbers on the animals. In this case, 10 + 1 = 11.

This is really useful because a younger child could just match the animals up and find the one that equals the combined height and wouldn’t necessarily have to write the number sentence or an older child can do all the problems. (Can we just call them “puzzles”? “Puzzles” sounds more fun than “math problems”.) The book contains 100 puzzles including subtraction, multiple addends, and more. Other examples include: Penguin + Frog – Rabbit = ______ and equalities such as Rabbit + Tiger = Frog + ______.  With the varying complexities of the puzzles, this toy could be used for several levels of math learning — it’s one of the most helpful educational games I’ve used in my homeschool.

In addition to being a learning tool, my kids also just liked playing with the blocks. They made up their own games and used the dry erase marker to draw mustaches and hats on the animal blocks themselves, which wiped off easily.

Is there anything you don’t like about Inchimals?

Stepping on them when they get left on the floor.

Seriously, my only regret is that I didn’t have these sooner. If you’re looking for great educational games to use at home, Inchimals is a perfect option. This is a toy/game/learning tool that could be used for several years. It would make a great gift. I would even consider buying it as a part of a pre-K, Kindergarten, or even 1st grade homeschool curriculum.

 

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About the All-Star Blogger

Melanie is a home educator of her four children ages 6, 9, 10, and 12.  Melanie’s background is in science and she has a bachelor’s degree in Biology.  Before becoming a mom, she worked in biomedical research.  Melanie has many interests and whether it is science, literature, history, art, or music, she enjoys learning alongside her kids and helping them discover new things about the world.  Her kids are involved in 4-H, Girl Scouts, horseback riding, piano, drums, and some sports, but at the same time, Melanie guards her family’s time and believes in leaving enough space in the schedule for rest and relationships.