Wednesday, February 27, 2013

MoMath, the New Math Museum in Manhattan

Here at The Yellin Center, we've got math on our minds. While it seems that a great deal is known about what happens in the brain when people process language, comparatively little information exists about the way the brain conceptualizes numbers and amounts. So we've been reading new studies about the brain and numbers with great interest and are expanding our knowledge about what “number sense” actually is, how automaticity in number recognition impacts math performance, and the very real problem of math anxiety.

With all this background, we were especially excited to visit Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, which is just a few blocks away from our learning center! Mo Math is the brainchild of Glen Whitney, a former math professor who now serves as the museum’s president. The museum, which focuses on abstract concepts without much emphasis on numbers, is the only math museum in the country according to the New York Times. It opened its doors for the first time on December 15, 2012, and has received rave reviews from visitors ranging from preschoolers to Ph. D. candidates.

According to its mission statement, the museum “illuminates the patterns that abound in our world.” Its exhibits are dynamic and are intended to spark visitors’ curiosity, inspire them to ask questions, and reveal the fascinating side of a subject many people find dull, obtuse, or downright scary. Whitney hopes to dispel myths that math is hard or boring with beautiful, exciting exhibits that may inspire some visitors to take a second look a at subject they thought they had pegged.

If our observations there were any indication, Whitney has met his goal and then some. “On a scale of one to ten,” we heard a father asking his family as they exited the museum, “what would you rate this place?” “Ten!” called out a boy who looked to be about eight. “Twelve!!” his older brother yelled. Everywhere we looked, children and adults alike were intent on riding square-wheeled tricycles (that actually work!), creating patterns with tessellation tiles, solving wooden puzzles by detecting patterns, jumping around on a dance floor-like space that lights up, and adjusting lengths of track to make a toy car race along it as quickly as possible. One of our favorite exhibits was a calculator that was two stories high and made of string; we enjoyed figuring out how it worked (but we won’t give away the secret!). Who’d have thought this level of engagement would exist at a museum? About math?

We thought we detected a caveat for a while; the museum was seriously lacking in meaty, mathematical explanations for the phenomena we were observing. Touch screens are available near many exhibits with explanations, and we could choose how detailed we wanted the explanation to be. But even the most in-depth explanations were pretty abstract, and this caused lots of fervent discussion within our group about the cold, hard data that would explain what we were actually seeing. Suddenly, it seemed that perhaps sparking this kind of discussion was the whole point. And the children around us were too busy having fun with rolling shapes and scattering light waves to miss the numbers.

To sum it up, you should visit the National Museum of Mathematics. It’s located at 11 E. 26th Street in Manhattan and is open seven days a week, from 10:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.

*Chang, Kenneth. “One Math Museum, Many Variables.”The New York Times. June 27, 2011.

Photos: Beth Guadagni

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tax Deductions for Parents

If the ads for tax preparation services haven't yet gotten your attention, then perhaps the pile of W-2 and 1099 forms in your mail basket might. It's time to think about taxes.

For the past several years we have reminded parents that they may be able to deduct certain expenses they incur for their child's special education. As set out in IRS Publication 502, the cost of tuition at a school with a program designed to help a student overcoming a diagnosed learning disability is generally deductible. Likewise, special instruction or tutoring outside of school, such as a certified reading instructor for a student with a diagnosis of dyslexia, may be deductible.

Other items that parents should consider for deduction include transportation to therapy appointments, and technology that is designed to enable a child to benefit from special education, such as text-to-speech programs, other specialized technology, and devices such as hearing aides.

These deductions are considered medical expenses and are subject to limitations as are all medical deductions. Raising children is expensive, and raising a child with special educational or medical needs is even more so. Make sure you speak with your accountant or tax preparer to take advantage of all the deductions to which your family is entitled.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Free Professional Development Event for Educators March 6 in NYC

The Yellin Center's acclaimed (and complimentary) Professional Development Series for Educators continues Wednesday, March 6 at 4:30 p.m. at our offices in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Dr. Yellin will discuss Struggling Readers. Some seats remain available as of press time!

Who should attend?

  • Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • School Learning Specialists
  • School Psychologists
  • Other Related Professionals

The event is free - however, advance registration is required and restricted to professional educators and related professionals only (Parents, fret not! New parent-focused presentations will be announced in the coming days!).

You may register for the presentation online here, or by calling The Yellin Center at (646) 775-6646. Don't miss out!

Visit our Events Calendar for more information on upcoming events at The Yellin Center and beyond.

Interested in having Dr. Yellin speak at your school or organization? Contact us to learn more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Better Quality TV Programming Can Improve Behavior of Young Children

We've noted before that researchers have found that what children watch on television can impact their behavior. For example, the ability of a group of four-year-olds to maintain attention, control behavior, and solve problems was severely compromised after just nine minutes of watching a fast-paced cartoon.

Now, new findings just published in the journal Pediatrics note the results of a randomized controlled study of 565 three to five year-old preschoolers where researchers "developed and tested an approach in which preschool-aged children’s viewing habits were altered such that they substituted high quality educational programs for violence laden ones."

The study used parent education as the key to reducing the children's exposure to violent television and other media. Participating families received home visits, newsletters, and telephone calls that provided information on the benefits of educational programs, how to use blocking features on televisions to keep children from accessing violent programs, and recommended channels selected from those available to that specific family. In addition, families received DVDs with clips of "positive" programming, designed to capture the interest of parents and children and encourage them to seek out such programs. There was no effort made to curtail the amount of screen time, just the quality of programs to which the children were exposed.

The researchers found a significant increase in high quality viewing in the families that were encouraged to focus on educational programs, as well as a move away from violent viewing. Notably, there were also significant changes in "social and emotional competence," a result that was particularly strong in boys from low income households. The changes in viewing habits and resulting positive impacts continued for the months of post study follow up.

The study authors note, "Although television is frequently implicated as a cause of many problems in children, our research indicates that it may also be part of the solution. Future research to perhaps further enhance media choices particularly for older children and potentially with an emphasis on low income boys is needed."

Photo: CC by Sarah Reid

Monday, February 18, 2013

Schoolhouse Rock! Turns Forty

“It’s great to learn, 'cause knowledge is power!”

Sound familiar? That’s a line from the introductory song to Schoolhouse Rock!, an educational cartoon series beloved by millions of students. Believe it or not, this year Schoolhouse Rock! celebrates its fortieth anniversary!

The sixty Schoolhouse Rock! videos cover topics as varied as math, grammar, science, American history, economics, and geology. In approximately three minutes, each pairs informative lyrics with a catchy beat to help students with tasks like differentiating between parts of speech, reciting the multiples of three, or understanding how a bill becomes a law. Despite their age, the videos are still used in some classrooms. Teachers find that students enjoy the fun, goofy videos, and they’re often able to recall important information more easily when it comes in the form of song lyrics.

Yes, Schoolhouse Rock! is dated, but that’s part of its charm. So invite your kids along for the ride as you unpack your adjectives, visit Conjunction Junction, and bring Interplanet Janet (from the days when Pluto was still a planet!), Mr. Morton, and Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla to your celebration of this rockin’ anniversary!

Image via Wikipedia

Friday, February 15, 2013

Recommended Reads: Seeds of America Trilogy

We continue our Recommended Reads feature, where we highlight books for children and young adults, with the Seeds of America trilogy of historical novels by Laurie Halse Anderson, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Seeds of America by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains - (originally published in 2008)
Forge - (originally published in 2010)
Ashes - (due to be released in book format March 1, 2013)

Awards: Chains was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction prize. Forge was named a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Kirkus Best Book for Teens, and a YALSA 2011 Best Book for Young Adults. It also appeared on the Horn Book Fanfare List of the best books of 2010.

Plot(s): Isabel is introduced in Chains as an orphaned slave girl in New England left to care for her mentally handicapped younger sister Ruth. Although her mistress swore to free Isabel when she died, documentation of this fact is difficult to track down after the old lady’s death and Isabel and Ruth are sold to a family in New York. Here, Isabel meets Curzon, slave of a Patriot master, who persuades Isabel to supply the rebel forces with damning political information about her cruel Tory masters in exchange for her freedom. Alas, the would-be Americans care as little for the fate of a slave girl as do her masters, and despite the information she provides, Isabel finds that she must act for herself if she ever wants to be free. But Curzon, who has fought in the first few battles of the Revolutionary War in his master’s place, is dying of illness and starvation in a British jail, and Isabel decides she can’t leave him behind. She stages an ingenious and daring escape, and the book ends as both set foot on the shore of New Jersey, free at last.

Unfortunately, freedom was not that simple for escaped slaves. In Forge, the narrative is taken over by Curzon, who reports that Isabel has flown the coop in search of Ruth and he is on his own. Under the guise of a free man, he joins the Patriot army yet again, in exchange for food and pay. Things are going, if not smoothly, at least somewhat tolerably for Curzon until his captain announces that the troop’s next move is to head for a winter camp, a place called Valley Forge. Curzon endures the blistering cold and aching supply shortages with his fellow soldiers until he runs unexpectedly into his former master and is pressed into servitude again. The only positive outcome of his re-enslavement is his reunion with Isabel, who has also been recaptured and forced to work for the same man. This time, it’s Curzon who, with the help of his friends in the army, arranges a successful escape for the two friends. Ashes, the final installment of the series, promises to continue the story of these two protagonists.

Adult Themes: Slavery and war are gruesome topics, and it is to Anderson’s credit that she does not shy away from some of the uglier aspects of life for the people who actually lived during Isabel and Curzon’s fictional existence. While the violence and cruelty are never gratuitous, particularly sensitive readers may want to read these with an understanding adult who can help them grapple with some of the darker chapters in United States history. 

Our Take: Is there anything better than a good work of historical fiction? Yes, if it’s one of a three-part series and you know you have two more novels to enjoy! Isabel and Curzon are so three-dimensional that even history-averse readers will find themselves fascinated by Anderson’s rendering of their world. In Forge in particular, the irony of a country fighting for a freedom that it denies to its slaves is fully explored, setting the stage for stimulating critical thought and discussion. Anderson begins each chapter of each book with a real quotation from a concurrent primary source that echoes the chapter’s themes. Additionally, extensive sections found in the back of both books explain which characters were fictional and which were not, the meanings of authentic words from the period which appear in the text, and other interesting information. Seeds of America showcases the very best kind of historical fiction: the kind that makes historical events feel relevant to readers more than 200 years later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Duolingo Offers Free Online Language Instruction

Software like Rosetta Stone has been widely touted as an effective way to learn a new language. Unfortunately, these packages do not come cheap, making them out of reach of many would-be linguists. Duolingo, however, seems poised to make expensive language-learning packages a thing of the past.

Duolingo is a free--yes, really; users won’t even see advertisements--web-based site that can teach users to speak Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, or English in simple, effective lessons. (Site administrators say that Chinese curriculum is on the way.) What's the catch to this free service? According to its website, Duolingo users -- presumably more advanced learners -- can use the learning tools for free, "because while you are learning you are also ...simultaneously contributing to translate real-world content from the Web." Advanced speakers can skip ahead to more challenging material, but beginners start with simple lessons that teach useful, basic nouns, verbs, and articles through varied examples and lots of repetition.

Imagine you are an English speaker who wants to learn French. Seconds after creating your account, you can begin your first lesson. Initial instruction methods include reading a sentence in French and translating it to English, typing an English sentence in French, selecting correct translations from multiple choices, listening to a sentence in French and typing the translation to English, and matching pictures with vocabulary. Learners can hear new words pronounced for them frequently, and if the user enables a microphone the system can even capture and correct a student’s pronunciation. Lessons are taught through a series of interactive questions, and feedback is provided after each answer so users know immediately whether they understand a concept. Forget a word? No problem. Simply hover the mouse over the word in question and a translation will appear.

Students may find their rapid progress through lessons motivating on its own, but if not, they can accumulate skill points by completing lessons successfully. And a free iPhone app is available so learners can practice on the go.

Duolingo is worth a look, whether you are a student who needs extra practice for a traditional class, a travel enthusiast, or someone in search of a new hobby.

Watch an introductory video below:

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Prevalence of Over-Protective Parenting

Yet another study has emerged which suggests that parents who shield their children from failure are likely doing more harm than good. In a recent article in The Atlantic, author and teacher Jessica Lahey summarizes the research on this subject and provides a few hair-raising stories of her own about over-involved parents.

The study surveyed “parenting professionals,” people like psychologists, counselors, and teachers about instances of hyper-protective parenting they have encountered. Some shared stories of parents being overprotective and too involved in their children’s lives. Others reported that they’d seen examples of parents who insisted on “taking their child’s perception as truth, regardless of the facts,” and “were quick to believe their child over the adult and deny the possibility that their child was at fault or would even do something of that nature.” Lahey proposes that the latter parenting style is the more damaging one. While some parents may feel that they are simply protecting their children, Lahey believes that they are in fact depriving their kids of the opportunity to solve their own problems and learn independence. Also part of this group are parents who bail their kids out of situations that might teach them responsibility, such bringing a forgotten assignment to school or demanding that a teacher change a child’s final grade.

Lahey implies that even if these parents don’t do actually complete students’ homework for them—something that, frighteningly, most teachers have encountered—they’re still preventing kids from developing other, arguably more important skills. Teachers, you see, have a hidden agenda. A teacher’s explicit curriculum is readily visible. This is the academic part of school, in which students learn facts and concepts about concrete subjects like math, science, and history. But the implicit curriculum is harder to see; in fact, most kids aren't even aware that it’s there. The implicit curriculum is a teacher’s way of helping kids learn important life skills, like keeping track of dates, pacing work, and organizing and being responsible for materials. It’s hard on a student when he procrastinates on a seventh grade science project and earns a poor grade for his sub-par work. But it’s even harder when, as an adult, he procrastinates on an important project in the office and has to present poor results to his boss. Suddenly the failed science project looks like an learning opportunity instead of a disaster. Kids whose parents shield them from the consequences of their irresponsible behavior may learn the explicit curriculum well. But they’re missing out on the critical lessons conveyed by the teacher’s implicit curriculum.

The thing is, if a child is going to learn from his mistakes, he has to be allowed to make some.

We want to be sure to present one very important caveat, however: If a child is clearly doing her best but continues to fail, her parents need to consider that something else may be going on. While we whole-heartedly believe it’s important to let children struggle and make mistakes when they have all the tools they need to succeed, asking a child with serious learning challenges to simply roll with the punches is simply not fair, and is likely to do more harm than good. We encourage parents who perceive that their child isn’t experiencing success, even with a great deal of time and effort, to consult the child’s teacher or other education professionals for guidance.

Read the full article from The Atlantic: Why Parents Need To Let Their Children Fail by Jessica Lahey

Friday, February 8, 2013

Coping with Test Anxiety: Worriers Versus Warriors

Most of us have been there: butterflies in the stomach, clammy hands that tremble, difficulty breathing. Test anxiety is all too familiar to most of us. A recent article in The New York Times by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (also authors of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing) explores why some kids (Warriors) seem to approach exams with cavalier nonchalance while others (Worriers) are seized with paralyzing stress. Of course, human behavior is influenced by a multitude of factors, but there’s also a compelling genetic explanation for this phenomenon. When a person experiences stress, the prefrontal cortex of his/her brain is flooded with the chemical dopamine. Because our brains work best when dopamine levels are controlled, the gene responsible for clearing that dopamine, a gene called the COMT gene, sets to work to restore balance. COMT, however, comes in two varieties. The first clears the dopamine slowly. The second clears it rapidly. Those who have the rapid removal version of COMT, Warriors, tend to perform better under stress. Worriers on the other hand, whose brains seem to become saturated with dopamine, often experience a drop in performance.

Here’s the part that makes this seem particularly unfair to Worriers: A slow-acting COMT gene is typically associated with higher cognitive and executive function skills. So students with higher cognitive abilities who sit down to a test are at a larger disadvantage than their less academically able classmates. The Times articles notes that a study in Taiwan demonstrated that students with higher IQs coupled with the slow-removal gene under-performed their fast-acting COMT-endowed counterparts on a high-stakes national exam.

This seems like bad news for Worriers, but, happily, there is hope. Studies of stress indicate that, like much else in life, the spin we put on a situation has an enormous impact on the way we deal with it. According to the authors, both amateur and professional athletes have been found to experience the same levels of stress before competition. The difference? The amateurs view stress as a derailing force while the professionals view it as an energizing one. The article notes that a study at Harvard put this principle to the test in an academic setting. Before taking a practice test, some students were given a statement explaining to them that stress actually improved test performance. Not only did that group out-perform the control group on the practice test, but they attained higher scores again when they took the actual GRE weeks later.

Part of managing test anxiety, then, is a matter of philosophy. The other comes with good, old-fashioned practice. The authors advocate “training, preparation, and repetition” as the best way to prepare Worriers for a stressful event. Here are some of our ideas for combating test anxiety, whether you’re coaching a student in your life, or yourself:

  • Allow the student to verbalize what she is feeling and help her by giving her the right language if she struggles. If talking it out is too hard, ask her to write about her thoughts. 

  • Help the student to understand that stress is not only normal but potentially beneficial. Share with him the story about stress experienced by amateur and professional athletes. Talk about viewing stress as a positive phenomenon. 

  • Physical relaxation can sometimes trigger mental clarity. Help students learn self-coaching language, or teach them to tense, then relax, various muscle groups. Some students may feel better if they have the chance to engage in physical activity before a test, like doing some yoga poses or going for a jog. 

  • Familiarity with test-day factors can be enormously helpful in combating stress. Help your student take practice tests, ideally under the same conditions in which she will face the real thing (i.e. setting, time constraints, etc.) If all that isn’t possible, visit the test site, review the testing procedures with your student using the verbatim instructions if you can find them, etc. 

  • Scholastic competitions (the math team, spelling bees, etc.) can serve as what the authors call “inoculation” for Worriers. Encourage your student to participate in such activities.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Recommended Reads: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

We love books! So, from time to time we will be sharing some of the wonderful books for children and young adults that your family may have overlooked in a new series called "Recommended Reads." We'd love to hear from you about your family's favorite reads and suggestions for books you would like us to review in the future. Today's pick features a boy who struggles to control his attention.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

Originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux  (1998)

Ages: 5th grade and up

Awards: Finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 1998, Notable Children’s Book in 1999

Plot: Joey Pigza is in the care of his grandmother when his mom comes to the rescue. Joey’s grandma doesn't take good care of him, so he’s thrilled when his mother returns after being gone for as long as he can remember. His life immediately improves – in some ways. But he still can’t sit still in class and is constantly in trouble at school. No matter how hard he tries, Joey can’t seem to control himself. He likens himself to a Tasmanian devil – he simply can’t sit still, and the “dud meds,” all his mother can afford, often fail to work. Despite his good intentions, he sticks his finger into a pencil sharpener on an impulse to give himself a sharp nail like Dracula and has to be sent to the nurse. He ruins a class trip by jumping from a rafter and spraining his ankle. And, of course, he swallows his house key. Joey always means well, and he knows that he’s a “good kid,” but things seem to be going from bad to worse for him. Eventually, he is sent to the special education classroom from time to time. The teacher there is more knowledgeable about Joey’s difficulties, but she has her hands full and can’t really give him the help he needs. When he runs across the classroom with scissors, producing disastrous results, Joey is sent to a center downtown. He dreads going, but instead of punishment finds a team of experts who put him on the right track at last. It will still be an uphill battle for Joey, but in the end he, his mother, and his teachers are feeling hopeful, and rightfully so, that things will work out for him after all.

Adult Themes: Joey’s mother alludes to her own former problems with alcohol several times and tells him that he’d have to look in bars if he wanted to find his absent father. She drinks a single cocktail after work in several scenes though she is never shown to be intoxicated or negligent. Joey’s grandmother, who disappears early on, is not a suitable caregiver, and while she is not physically abusive to Joey, she is certainly emotionally abusive.

Our Take: While we try to focus on kids’ reactions when we review books, we were blown away by the way the author put us so vividly in the shoes a child who suffers from uncontrollable attention difficulties. The first-person narrative allows readers to get right into Joey’s head, and it made us understand the obstacles children face when they struggle to control their attention on a different level. This book is alternately funny and heart-wrenching, and often both at the same time. It’s clear from the beginning that Joey is an immensely likable, good-hearted boy, but adult readers will find themselves wondering how on earth they would ever be able to manage him if they were his teacher or parent. Younger readers will be taken with Joey’s good nature and sense of humor, and some may even relate to him personally, or be able to see a classmate in Joey. Children often report that they find Joey’s shenanigans humorous, though adult readers may find the book more poignant than funny. Through much of the book, Joey tries to improve and fails again and again because he lacks the right resources. This can be hard to read, especially for older readers, and it comes as a huge relief when Joey finally meets people who can help him, and his mother, get their lives together.

Some parents may want to read this book before giving it to their children so that they can be prepared to discuss some of the difficult issues it raises. While there’s no question that Joey’s mother loves him very much, she is not an ideal parent, and kids will also be confronted with the emotional abuse Joey suffers at the hands of his grandmother (this part is brief), inadequate support from his school, and both learning and physical disabilities. These realities are not written gratuitously; in fact, Joey serves as a caring and tender narrator, but some kids may fare best with parental support.

Children who struggle with attention themselves would particularly benefit from this book, and will be pleased to know that there are three other books in the series: Joey Pigza Loses Control (a Newbery Honor Book in 2001), What Would Joey Do?, and I Am Not Joey Pigza

Monday, February 4, 2013

Practicing with Clocks

Telling time with analog clocks seems to be especially challenging for children. Is it the proliferation of digital clocks? Whatever the reason, here at The Yellin Center we often work with children who are great at math except for those pesky clocks. How to help kids practice? Giving a child an attractive analog watch that will motivate him or her to use it often can be very effective. Here are two more fun, easy ideas to get youngsters excited about and comfortable with telling time from analog clocks:

Paper Plate Clocks

Supplies: two paper plates, something to write with, glue, a brad, colored paper, a hole punch

Make a clock with a “cheat sheet” underneath! Begin by writing the numbers 1-12 around the perimeter of a paper plate so that it resembles a clock face. Make cuts between each of the numbers so that they resemble tabs which can be folded toward the center of the clock. Next, write the numbers 00, 05, 10, etc. around the perimeter of a second plate so that they line up with the numbers on the “clock.” Now punch a hole in the center of each plate. Spread a small amount of glue on the second plate (the one with 00, 05, etc. on it) around the hole you punched and lay the “clock” plate on top. Use a brad to join the plates and to attach two paper clock hands. The finished product should look like a regular clock with movable hands, but this one allows students to fold down the numbers to help them practice telling time to the minute. For example, if the minute hand is pointing at the 7, a child can fold the 7 toward the middle of the clock to reveal the hidden 35 underneath. Practice moving the hands to various positions and asking children what time it is now.

Daily Routine Clocks

Supplies: paper, scissors, something to write with

For kids who have predictable schedules, make and label a different clock for each event. For example, if your child has soccer practice each day at 4:30, construct a paper clock showing 4:30 and label it “Soccer Practice.” If your family eats dinner each night at 7:00, make a “Dinner” clock as well. Tack your paper clocks on the wall around a working analog clock, and when children ask what time an event will take place, ask them to find the right paper clock and compare it with the real clock. For more advanced time tellers, ask them how long it will be until an event happens.

Thanks to Clutter Free Classroom and Teacher Web for great inspiration!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Storymatic for Creative Writing, Storytelling, and Play

Some kids can’t seem to stem the flow of creative ideas when it comes to storytelling. Others can’t think of a single thing to put into a story. Kids in both categories, as well as everyone in between, will love The Storymatic Kids!, a storytelling game sure to get your creative juices flowing (and flowing and flowing).

Play is simple: Pick a few cards from the box and let your imagination run wild as you create a story. Yellow cards contain characters and blue cards display miscellaneous story elements like settings, situations, or items. There are also wild cards so players can include their own ideas.

Some of the suggestions on the game’s homepage include giving the game to early writers, parents in need of ideas for bedtime stories, teachers of creative writing, and grandparents who want to interact with their grandchildren. But the possibilities are practically endless. Why not tell a group story, in which each person draws a card and uses it to add another few sentences to the story? How about making a comic strip with the ideas on the cards? Wouldn't these be perfect for an evening of improv games?

The game comes with 360 different cards and a booklet containing prompts, specific games, and other suggestions. But The Storymatic is so versatile that there’s really no wrong way to play and no reason to play by any rules except the ones players set themselves.

Various versions of The Storymatic are available at toy stores, from Amazon, or through the company’s homepage.