⇒Disclaimer: I purchased Laser Maze Jr. at a discounted price from the Timberdoodle Company in exchange for my honest review of this product. With that said, I was not required to write a positive review by Timberdoodle, and this review is an honest reflection of our family’s experience playing with Laser Maze Jr.
Laser Maze Jr. | Review & Guide
Timberdoodle and STEM
I’m a big supporter of introducing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) into a child’s curriculum as early as possible. Laser Maze Jr. is a great game to help peak children’s interest in STEM. STEM is everywhere around us and embracing it from a young age will help our kids stay on par with the world’s future growth. However, as I explained in my Hands-On Toys post, technology does have it’s downfalls if introduced too soon and/or if overused.
So how can we manage to balance introducing a healthy amount of STEM early on into our children’s lives, but still keep technology to a minimum? Well, Timberdoodle does a wonderful job in doing so from their very first Tiny Tot’s Curriculum, all the way up to 12th grade.
Thanks to Timberdoodle, STEM has become a staple subject in our household. By introducing games that include a healthy balance of Hands-On skills and Technology, Timberdoodle does a wonderful job helping our children develop their Critical, Strategic, Problem-Solving Thinking skills from a very young age. Laser Maze Jr. is a great example of how young children can develop these skills and stay engaged without the need of any screen time.
What is Laser Maze Jr?
Laser Maze Jr. is a single player strategic game for ages 6 and up that uses a “Space Theme” to help capture young kids interest to play the game. Players need to resort on using their Critical and Strategic Thinking Skills, to make the laser beam hit each obstacle just right in order for it to reach and light up its designated “Space Rocket” target/s. Let’s look at a picture to give you a nice visual of the objective of this game.
- Game Grid with Laser attached.
- 11 Tokens (5 Satellite mirrors, 3 Space Rock Blockers, 2 light up Space Rocket Targets, 1 Beam Splitter)
- 40 Game Cards – in 4 different color-coded difficulty level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Super Hard)
Unlike other games that begin being a challenge from the very first game card, Laser Maze Jr. does a very good job making the beginning stages of this game simple enough for younger kids. The Easy level of this game begins with very simple challenges that are meant to help a child understand how the laser beam bends when it hits each different object. The 40 Challenge Cards gradually build upon each other, which helps young players play and understand each step without any frustration.
Let’s talk about Laser Maze Jr‘s “Space Theme”
Laser Maze Jr’s “Space Theme” makes this game a great pairing with any Astronomy curriculum. Since in our family we homeschool different ages and grades at the same time, Science is one of those subjects we combine. Our Science curriculum for part of our 3rd and 1st-grade year has been “Astronomy by Apologia”, so Laser Maze Jr’s “Space Theme” has really made this whole game very intriguing for our 6-year-old 1st-grader. The Satellite mirrors, Space Rocks, and Space Rocket game tokens are all terms my son is very familiar with and making this game very relatable to any Astronomy fan.🚀
Timberdoodle includes this game in their 2nd-grade Curriculum Kit, however, thanks to Laser Maze Jr‘s easy approach, clear instructions, and “Space Theme“, families like ours could easily include it early-on if the need presents itself. Thinkin’ Fun (the Manufacturer of Laser Maze Jr.) labels this game for ages 6 and up. Although I believe this game could be easily played at a younger age, Laser Maze Jr‘s age placement is probably due to the risk of younger kids damaging their eyes if they were to look directly into the laser beam. Although this can’t easily happen since the laser beam is securely attached to the game grid, it is a good idea to use parental supervision for younger children playing this game.
How to Play Laser Maze Jr.
Step 1. Slide a challenge card inside the bottom of the transparent game grid.
Step 2. Set up the game tokens as challenge card shows. — The placement of each game token is made very clear for even the younger players, requiring little to no adult assistance other than making sure kids don’t look directly into the laser beam.
Step 3. Take the tokens shown in the “add to grid” card section and set aside.
Step 4. Strategically place the “add on tokens” to the game grid to make the “Space Rockets” light up!
Playing the Game
After setting up the game grid, players need to think how they can strategically place their given tokens to guide the red laser beam to hit the target/s (Space Rocket/s). Since the light of the laser beam travels in a straight line, the player needs to use “the satellite mirrors” and/or “beam splitter” tokens to bend it. My best advice is to just get kids set up and going, as they will quickly understand while playing how each token will bend or stop the laser beam on its tracks. Above is a visual of a solved challenge to show how each token works.
- Satellite Mirrors. Will reflect the laser beam in a “right angle direction” but only if positioned right. If the laser hits the back part instead of the mirror, then the laser beam will be dead at arrival.
- Beam Splitter. This token splits the beam into 2 parts and is used when the laser beam needs to hit and light up 2 Rocket targets.
- Space Rocks. As the levels increase in difficulty so does the use of Space Rocks, which sole intent is to block the laser from getting to the targets! A player needs to be able to place his tokens in a way to redirect the laser away from the Space Rocks.
- Light up Space Rockets. These are the intended targets that light up when they are hit by the red Laser Beam. When these light up, so does the child’s eyes!😍🚀
You’ll be surprised how intrigued kids become by watching how their course of actions can change the direction of the laser beam. I believe Mesmerized is the perfect word to describe my son’s reaction as he began playing. As I’ve mentioned, the 40 Game Cards do a great job on gradually increasing in difficulty. Younger players by the time they have reached the Medium level will have fully mastered how each game piece works making Laser Maze Jr. highly enjoyable for younger players.
Benefits of Playing Laser Maze Jr.
As I was watching my son play Laser Maze Jr. it was very apparent how every token placement was very well thought, nothing he placed on his game grid was by chance. It was amazing to see his thinking wheels at work, and the excitement in his eyes every time he realized what he had planned worked! Playing Laser Maze Jr. is a great way to help younger kids develop their Critical Thinking Skills and here are some ways how…
- While children are trying to learn the science behind how and what makes the red laser beam bend, they are also using a great amount of Optics and Logical Reasoning Skills.
- To effectively solve each challenge card, kids are examining angles and evaluating their options on how to build the maze (Analytical Thinking). While brainstorming on how to bring the laser beam to hit their designated target, kids are developing and practicing also their Problem-Solving Skills while Thinking Strategically.
I have to admit when I first opened the box and watched my son breeze through solving the first 14 game cards in 15 minutes, I got worried the Jr. version of Laser Maze was too easy for him. However, after the first sprint, my 6-yr-old (soon to be 7) then slowed down and can now only solve 1-2 cards per day (sometimes 1 card needs multiple days). I would definitely say the Easy level is extremely easy, but keep in mind this game is geared towards younger children who would probably get frustrated if they didn’t get any easy wins right off the bat!
Before giving Laser Maze Jr. a chance, I was of the opinion it wasn’t worth buying. Why? I have 3 young kids and like many homeschooling families making ends meet on one income. I usually prefer to buy things my kids can grow into, not fastly grow out of. However, after observing my 6 yr old son play Laser Maze Jr., I’m happy to say it was well worth the purchase.🙌 Having fewer and simpler game tokens than the older kids version, greatly helps the youngsters not get overwhelmed while trying to build their maze. Simply put, Fewer and Simpler game tokens = Learning-Fun without Frustration!
Since we had Laser Maze Jr. in the house, my almost 9-year-old son enjoyed trying a few challenge cards as well. Although this version of the game is too easy for him, it is a great way to help him learn the basics of the Laser Maze game while preparing him to enjoy the level up version.
” In summary, we have found Laser Mazer Jr. to be a great option for introducing STEM into a child’s early education”.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven”.
Keep “Homeschooling Along”,