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Introducing…Story Time Learning! Tricky Subjects Made Simple Through Stories

Introducing…Story Time Learning! Tricky Subjects Made Simple Through Stories

Introducing…Story Time Learning! Tricky Subjects Made Simple Through Stories

Way back in 2006, our co-founder Tyler Schwartz found himself in a bit of a jam. After teaching chess in New York City for several years, he’d landed a gig at a prestigious preschool in Lower Manhattan. It was the first time he’d ever introduced three-year-olds to the game and he quickly realized that the traditional approach to chess instruction wasn’t going to cut it.

Simply telling the kids how the king moved on the chessboard wasn’t enough. They needed more; they needed a why. Thankfully, Tyler’s momentary panic led to inspiration. Thinking fast, he improvised a story about a very hungry king who took one slow step at a time, providing an aha! moment for his young pupils with a character-driven explanation that made an abstract, arbitrary rule concrete and relatable.

That first aha! moment eventually launched a tutoring service called Chess at Three, which would go on to become the premier early childhood chess company in the city. Within a few years, hundreds of schools all over the country were licensing Chess at Three’s story-based curriculum and teaching it in their own classrooms.

Then, in 2018, the Chess at Three team adapted the first module of that curriculum into an illustrated storybook and custom chess set called Story Time Chess: The Game. In the sixteen years since Tyler’s first foray into early childhood chess, our companies have expanded to reach over 250,000 kids around the world.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the next evolution in our company’s journey. Thinking Cup Learning, the parent company overseeing our tutoring service, licensing program, and board game products, will now be known as Story Time Learning. 

Though we continue to evolve, our mission—delivering 1,000,000 aha! moments by 2030—remains the same. Story Time Learning will encompass an array of digital platforms, continue to provide high-quality in-person lessons, and turn out even more innovative board game products. While we deepen our chess product line, we’ll also look beyond chess to make a range of tricky subjects and challenging games fun and accessible for ages three and up.

Excited? So are we! Here’s a look at what we have in the pipeline right now:

Story Time Live

Later this year, we’ll be launching a brand-new way to experience our story-based teaching approach, an app-based video platform called Story Time Live! 

Subscribers to Story Time Live will be able to watch video versions of our award-winning lessons (produced by a two-time Emmy-winner) on their phones, tablets, computers, and smart TVs, complete with the interactive moments, physical activities, and in-depth gameplay that our students have come to know and love.

Story Time Live is currently in the final stages of post-production. Stay tuned to our newsletter and social media channels for updates about the launch of our exciting new streaming platform!

Story Time Backgammon

Last year, we polled the Story Time Chess community and the response was overwhelmingly, “More games please!” Well, we’re very happy to report that an all-new board game is nearing completion right now: Story Time Backgammon!

Featuring a richly illustrated board, nine-chapter storybook with lessons and mini-games, and custom pieces with colorful inserts, Story Time Backgammon tells the tale of a friendly pirate named Peglegra the Bold and a Viking chieftain named Chompus the Great. In Story Time Backgammon, these two intrepid sailors will set out from their homes on opposite ends of the Bay of Gammon in search of treasure and glory.

As always, no backgammon experience is necessary to play, learn, or teach the game. Just open the storybook and have a blast learning backgammon along with your kids, one rule—and one story—at a time.

So keep a weather eye out for Story Time Backgammon, available for purchase in early 2023! 

Story Time Music

Set in bucolic Musiclandia, Story Time Music takes students on a fun, engaging journey of musical discovery. Story Time Chess students will recognize the two main characters, Queen Bella and Allegra the Architect, whose adventures reveal the basic building blocks of music theory, ear training, and composition.

Those three areas of music education are usually reserved for secondary and post-secondary students. Rarely are they introduced to grade-schoolers and they’re almost never taught in early childhood. In-person and online Story Time Music lessons change all that.

Through hilarious, highly interactive stories, our expert music educators help kids as young as three decipher musical notation, sight read sheet music, recognize pitches by ear, play instruments, and even write their own original songs.

Strike up the band today and click here to register your child for Story Time Music!

Story Time Chess Expansion Sets

Over 70,000 families can’t be wrong: That’s how many people around the globe own a copy of Story Time Chess: The Game. Since its official launch in 2019, Story Time Chess customers have been hankering for more fun, engaging Chesslandia adventures that expand their kids’ chess knowledge and deepen their love of the game.

That’s where Story Time Chess’s Level 2 Strategy Expansion and Level 3 Tactics Expansion sets come in! These two new expansion packs for Story Time Chess: The Game feature fully illustrated storybooks that teach high-level rules and skills like castling, openings, pawn promotion, board analysis, and piece point values.

Each set also includes three workbooks: a kid-friendly chess puzzle book with mini-stories and engaging puzzles, a phonics-focused activity workbook, and a coloring book that lets your child’s creativity run wild.

Our Level 2 and Level 3 Expansions are on sale now! Head to to get back in the game and take your family’s chess skills to the next level.

Birchguard Quest

It’s no secret—kids love to “play pretend.” In fact, education experts have known for decades that imaginative social play takes up 68-75% of kids’ after school time, and that structured role-play helps children develop a wide range of cognitive and social skills.

More importantly, creating a new persona and stepping into an imaginary role is FUN! Learning-as-play is our bread and butter, which is why Story Time Learning created the industry’s first educational role-playing program: Birchguard Quest

Inspired by tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, Birchguard Quest (offered both online and in-person) is an immersive, tutor-led narrative adventure in which students work together to complete an epic escapade through the magical Kingdom of Bircholde. Aha! moments abound in Birchguard Quest, which features interactive stories and collaborative challenges that emphasize teamwork, quantitative reasoning, language skills, working memory, executive function, and creative self-expression.

Birchguard Quest offers group sessions year-round. Enrollment is open right now; click here to reach out and register your child today!

Under our new banner of Story Time Learning, we plan to bring even more innovative, enriching, story-based educational products to market. We’ll give more classic strategy games the Story Time treatment, release more video lessons for Story Time Live, and continue to provide top-tier tutoring both online and in-person.

None of that would be possible without you. Your belief in our approach and support of our mission is the driving force behind everything we do. Thank you! We hope you continue to celebrate aha! moments with us for years to come.