Expanders ~ SimplyFun – A Review

Whether it is an official Family Game Night or just an afternoon of fun and relaxation, everyone in our home loves a good game. If I can sneak in a bit of learning during game time that is a huge bonus. SimplyFun, a company that believes in the power of play, sent the game Expanders to review. Who could resist the opportunity to play instead of doing math?


Expanders is designed for ages seven and up. Basic addition fact knowledge is necessary in order to play. Depending on skill level, age, and mastery of addition, you can change the level of play difficulty.

The game board is a frame that allows you to put in numbered slats. For two players, two blank slats are placed in the board. For three to four players, all slats that fill the board are numbered. To increase the difficulty, you place the higher numbered side of the slats face up. Each player has colored tokens to mark her progress on the board.

Play is very simple. You begin by placing tokens on the numbers in the first line on your side of the board. You may either place tokens on two numbers that are the same such as 4 and 4. The other option is to complete a reverse addition. You could place a token on the number “5” and then tokens on numbers “4” and “1”. You must verbalize the reverse addition as you play your tokens.

You are not limited to two addends. Playing “9” and then “6”, “2” and “1” is an excellent way to make a move. Why? Because the goal is to deplete your token stash before the other players. There is a challenging twist to the game. You can only play on numbers that allow your tokens to touch previously played tokens. This creates a bit of creative thinking at times to see a workable move.

This is where strategy comes into play. While you are playing your tokens, you also want to block your opponents. How better to use up your tokens first? What appears to be a simple game can be quite the challenge.

Our Thoughts on Expanders

We are always up for a good game! I love finding games that allow for a wide range of ages and skill. Expanders was perfect for this. Since it is for ages seven and up, six of my  nine children would be able to play. Reinforcement of math facts and a bit of strategic thinking was a bonus.

It has been mainly my 11, 9, and 7 year old daughters who have enjoyed playing Expanders. After a brief reading and discussing of the rules, they were ready to play. It was very easy to set up and jump right into playing. I loved how simple it was to begin playing and how quickly even my seven year old picked up on the need for strategy. It only took one time of my blocking a player or two out of options for them to pay a bit more attention to token placement.

Expanders doesn’t take long to play. We found that fifteen to twenty minutes was generally adequate for a round. While I did incorporate playing Expanders as “math”, my girls often ask to play it for fun. Who am I to say no to fun and learning?

If your family enjoys playing games or you like to add fun learning into your school days, Expanders is definitely one to add to the mix. It would also work well in a classroom setting whether traditional or perhaps a homeschool co-op.

Other Crew Members reviewed Expanders as well as another game, Shape Whiz. Check out a review or two. You might need to add an item to that homeschool planning list.

Simply Fun Review
Crew Disclaimer

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Despite the craziness of life, I have found time to read a bit each day. I am trying to maintain having at least two books going at once as I enjoy reading different things at various points of the day/week. However, this week I found that I wanted to curl up with a good book that would not be mentally draining. I’m sure all my fellow moms understand that one, right?

A friend had recommended The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a mystery novel, by Alan Bradley. It seemed the perfect answer for my need to veg on the couch a bit.

Set in the summer of 1950 in England, we meet Flavia de Luce. Flavia, 11, is quite the chemist with a specialty in poisons. Full of personality and precociousness, Flavia handles life with a widowed father and annoying sisters with enthusiasm and spunk. Then murder finds its way to Flavia’s backyard. A strange man is found in the de Luce’s cucumber patch and the prime suspect is Flavia’s father. With charm, wit, and determination, can Flavia find the true murderer?

I am sure that  for some having an eleven year old as the main character in an adult mystery novel might be a bit odd. However, Flavia handles her role with style. I found myself not only trying to solve the mystery before I reached the end but smiling and laughing as I turned the pages.

The power of relationships is a main thread through this book. It was interesting to see how different characters connected and reacted with one another. I always looked forward to an encounter between Flavia and the Inspector. It was never disappointing. I am curious to see how that relationship will evolve in future books.

An intriguing mystery and engaging characters made for a most excellent afternoon read. I am looking forward to reading more of Flavia’s adventures.

A few quotes:

“I reached out and touched his hands and they stilled at once. I had observed—although I did not often make use of the fact—that there were times when a touch could say things that words could not.”


“Then I remembered that silence can sometimes do more damage than words.”


“Simple pleasures are best.”


“Seed biscuits and milk! I hated Mrs. Mullet’s seed biscuits the way Saint Paul hated sin. Perhaps even more so. I wanted to clamber up onto the table, and with a sausage on the end of a fork as my scepter, shout in my best Laurence Olivier voice, ‘Will no one rid us of this turbulent pastry cook?”


“Chicken fizz! O Lord, protect all of us who toil in the vineyards of experimental chemistry!”


“Once, when I remarked that she looked like a disoriented bandicoot, she leapt up from the piano bench and beat me within an inch of my life with a rolled-up piano sonata by Schubert. Ophelia has no sense of humor.”


Here and There, This and That

Life is full of twist and turns. No surprise there, right?

I had plans for the summer. We normally do not take a summer break due to the heat. Spring and fall are our normal break times. Books were requested, readings scheduled, and pencils were sharpened.

Now we find ourselves in a bit of a transition…waiting….and waiting. And with this my lovely plans are not working out so beautifully. We tweak. We flex.

Perhaps the summer is working out in a better way.  My older two are diligently still working on their independent studies, writing stories, and knitting top secret gifts. Younger ones are enjoying Lego creations, mighty sword fights, journeys into space, and thrilling games of freeze tag.

A bit of reading and math here and there. Working on a bit of recitation because it’s fun, you know. Read alouds are given top priority. Penrod is our current read and I am quite pleased at how my children are digesting all the rich vocabulary.

Tomorrow….we will be here and there. We might do a bit of this and that. I have no doubt we will laugh, make memories, and enjoy. Some things just can’t be scheduled and planned. Life is good!