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Game Kids: Easy, Homemade 4th of July Game

3 Jul

Owning an enormous collection of board games doesn’t stop us from making up our own!  Whether you & your family have a lot of games or just one old copy of Scrabble… there are games all around you, ready to be made.

I decided to make a quick and easy file folder board game featuring the 4th of July for 3 year old GoGoGirl.

Stars and Stripes Game 01

I called it “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

First, I traced a large bottle cap (one from a bottle of juice) as many times as I could on the inside of an opened manila file folder, making a long snaking path.  Because GoGoGirl sometimes has trouble following the path on her games, I decided to also link the circles together to give her a visual cue.

I labeled the starting area “GO” and colored it green, and the finish area “STOP” colored red.  These are words that she’s beginning to recognize (unlike “start” and “finish”) and I knew that having the colors tied in would be an extra help.

Stars and Stripes Game 02

I took a small wooden cube from the craft store and used acrylic paint to make a red star, a white star, a blue star, red stripes, white stripes, and blue stripes.  I used markers (and white crayon for the white objects) to repeat this pattern on the path of circles on our gameboard.

Once the paint on our die was dry, I pulled three Meeples from our stash (red, white, and blue tokens, of course!) and we played the game in the style of Candyland.  Roll a blue star, and move along the path to the next blue star.

The game is just as easy and quick to play as it was to make.  The kids and I played several times in a row, and then I showed GoGoGirl how she can play it on her own, just for fun to let her “little man” walk the path.

I’m planning on making lots more file folder games and activities for her this year, things that she’ll be able to pull out and play or work on independently while I’m helping her big brother KarateKid with his math or science.

Even a simple game like this teaches holiday vocabulary (stars / stripes), simple sight words (go / stop), colors, left-to-right and single-direction movement, turn-taking, and more.  (Like making your Meeples kiss and hug if they land on the same space!)  Games are great!

Stars and Stripes Game 03

Two Parades in a Week!

4 Jun

Last Saturday, we marched in the “Coming to America” parade at the Cleveland Zoo as part of our adoption agency’s reunion picnic.  Tonight, GoGoGirl marched in our local festival parade with her gymnastics school.

Boys Waiting for Candy

We arrived early, and Nate and KarateKid picked out a good spot for candy-catching.

At the Parade

KarateKid was happy when the parade finally started. If you notice the banner, it says “Bed and Bath Tub Race.” That’s definitely the craziest local parade quirk, a race that begins a few minutes after the end of the parade. Different teams (members of the high school track team, the Republican party, the Civil Air Patrol, local cab drivers, etc.) make and race either beds or bathtubs on wheels, and at three points along the track they have to whirl their contraption around in a circle before proceeding. (They used to have the rider jump out, the whole team run around the tub, and then a different rider jump in, but that part was missing tonight. Maybe too many people were injured in that part of the race last year?) I didn’t get any pictures of the race this year because I had a very excited GoGoGirl on my lap… but take it from me, it is weird and wacky.

Big Marcher

Here’s Emily, who marched the whole length of the parade with our gymnastics school. She obviously was having a great time tossing candy!

Little Marchers

And here come GoGoGirl and Anna, with a tired Leigh. The little girls kept stopping to pick up candy, even though they were supposed to be marching! They stopped when they got to where we were sitting and stayed to watch and catch candy for the rest of the parade while Em marched on.

Proud Parader

Even though she only marched halfway, GoGoGirl was still very proud to have been in the big parade.

Little Friends

She was also glad to find a spot to sit and cuddle with her darling Cousin C. How cute are they?

Grown-Up Diversion

And how are grown-up geeks to pass the time while our geeks-in-training are catching candy? With a game, of course! Travel Settlers of Catan to the rescue.

Game Night: Qwirkle

1 May

With a strategic seven-year-old and a thrill-seeking three-year-old in the house, I am always on the lookout for games that do double-duty, and we’ve found one in Qwirkle.

Qwirkle 1

Published by MindWare and sold at Growing Tree Toys, Qwirkle is a lovely little game of matching and set-making.

A game for the whole family, the Qwirkle Game from Mindware is the colorful tile game that takes color and shape recognition to a whole new level! The goal of this strategic Qwirkle Game is to earn the most points by playing of all your tiles. But, you can only play the Qwirkle tiles by matching either the colors or the shapes of the tiles that have already been played, much like a tile version of UNO with the layout of Scrabble. To win the Qwirkle Game, you must combine strategy with quick thinking so your opponents cannot spoil your moves. And, since the Qwirkle Game from Mindware requires no reading, it is the perfect game for youngsters as they pump up their brain power! Includes 108 wooden blocks. For 2 to 4 players.

The first time we played, I sat in on seven-year-old KarateKid’s side and helped show him which moves were valid and what strategy might be best.  He quickly picked up on the mechanics of the game and is becoming quite good at the strategy of searching the board for the highest-value moves and holding onto pieces in hopes of getting a matching piece to boost your score.  If you finish a line with all 6 colors or all 6 shapes, that’s called a Qwirkle and you get bonus points, so it helps to be building towards those.

Qwirkle 2

Qwirkle reminds me not only of a combination of UNO and Scrabble, but it’s a little bit like another of our favorite games, Set, since you’re looking for things that are all alike or all different.  It’s an interesting way to work on set-making skills, which, of course, boosts mathematical and logical thinking while you’re having fun… so when we play Qwirkle with KarateKid, I jot that down under “math” for the day’s homeschooling!

One thing I’ve really liked about Qwirkle is the weight and quality of the wooden tiles as well as the fact that the tiles store in a drawstring bag, which makes it a wonderfully portable game.  It does take a bit of flat space to play it, since the final layout can be pretty big.

Qwirkle 3

The actual game of Qwirkle is quite a bit beyond where three-year-old GoGoGirl is right now but like all good educational toys, this game does double duty because we can play with the pieces in all sorts of ways.  Sometimes she likes to imitate her brother and sit with a little line of her own tiles, adding them to a central layout by matching color or shape.  Sometimes we try to pick a matching color from the bag, and other times we use two sets of the tiles (there are 3 of each possible color/shape combination) to play memory.  The tiles have been food (“Here are two oranges and a blueberry.”), money (“I’ll pay you two greens and a yellow.”), and of course building blocks.  We can also use them to make patterns or pictures.  There are plenty of things that GoGoGirl can do with the Qwirkle tiles until she’s big enough to understand the strategy and rules of the original game.

Although Qwirkle is marketed for kids, it is a great family game, and MechDaddy and I have had some really competitive two-person games!  We were glad to add Qwirkle to our game collection.

Qwirkle is a great fit for our family.  What about you?  Have you played Qwirkle?  Done unusual things with the tiles?  Does it remind you of another game?  I just love to talk games, so please chime in.

I received my copy of Qwirkle from Growing Tree Toys for the purposes of this review, and the opinions above are ours alone.  Thanks, Growing Tree!  We are loving Qwirkle.

Muffin Tin Monday: Eat a Rainbow – and a Game

12 Apr

We love the phrase “Eat a Rainbow” and say it to ourselves as we’re grocery shopping to encourage ourselves to try new fruits and vegetables to fill out that color palate.  You can read here about the different vitamins, antioxidants, and the other good phyto-chemicals found in the different colored fruits and veggies.

MTM Rainbow Fruit 02

This week the theme for Muffin Tin Monday was Rainbow, so we had a fruit rainbow for brunch:  red strawberries, orange oranges, yellow lemons, green kiwi, blue berries, and purple grapes.  KarateKid went with me this weekend to do the shopping and choose the fruit, and he put the tin together this week all by himself while GoGoGirl and I played in the living room!  What a treat!

MTM Rainbow Fruit 01

Both kids are fruit-lovers and gobbled this tin up, asking for seconds and thirds!

MTM Rainbow Fruit 03

I also found this fun little Eat a Rainbow game to print out from the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, and we played it while we were eating.  I like this quick game because they’ve included clip art of fruits and vegetables of various colors on the cards.  In this game, you draw a hand of cards which are both color-coded by the color of the food and also numbered.  Each round, the players flip over one card from their hands.  Whichever player flipped over the card with the highest number gets to choose one of the revealed cards to put on her plate.  The first player to fill her plate wins!

MTM Rainbow Fruit 04

Instead of printing out the included “plates”, though, I made colored spaces on real paper plates to make the game more appealing to three-year-old GoGoGirl.  I also made a double set of the cards so that we could play with our whole family.  (Using the double set, if there is a tie, each person who played the highest value card gets to keep that card on her plate.)

MTM Rainbow Fruit 05

We are keeping the plates and cards in a gallon-size bag, and already the kids have started to add their own “house rules” to the game!  KarateKid likes to add up the total on all your cards at the end and have the highest total plate be the winner. Because GoGoGirl can’t yet compare two cards and understand that 19 is more than 13, we made a color die to go with the game.  In the toddler-rules version, we separate the food cards into piles by color and on our turn, roll the die to see what color card we can pick.  The 6th side of the die is a wild star, and you can take whatever card you like.

MTM Rainbow Fruit 06

We’ve had fun playing this game and talking about all the nutritious, different-colored foods!  I hope this free game will become a favorite in your house too.

For more Rainbow-licious Muffin Tin Meals, head over to Muffin Tin Mom.

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Gray Day Science: Periodic Table Puzzle

6 Apr

I love that KarateKid is so sensitive to the weather… like any good nomad (which he sometimes says he’d like to be when he grows up), he’s up and going the second the bright sun comes in his window, but when it’s gray and rainy like today his body sleeps and sleeps and sleeps to save energy for tomorrow.  (And, of course, I love that we homeschool so I never have to shake him awake to catch a bus.)

Today was gray when we woke up – in fact, we had a little 8 am thunderstorm.  KarateKid slept until around 9:00, and then the kids and I had a long cuddle/tickle/chat in my bed until we finally got up about 9:30 to go for a little walk.  The rest of the morning was slow and lazy, with lots of books to read and a little Muzzy to watch.

Around noon, I pulled a big box from the bottom of the crate of toys and goodies that Pappy and Grandma Nita had given the kids when we visited them the weekend before Easter.  They’d recently been to the ACS meeting in San Francisco and gave the kids a 550 piece jigsaw puzzle of the periodic table of the elements, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Periodic Puzzle 01

KarateKid and I worked on that puzzle together until we finished it around 1:30.  GoGoGirl flitted around us, playing with some Memory cards, dolls, a pair of binoculars, and a pile of books, happy to chat with us as we sorted and fitted.

I love doing puzzles anytime, but this one was an especially great fit for us today.  KarateKid wants to be able to move on from the 100-piece kids’ puzzles but all the bigger puzzles he’s tried to help with before this one have been just too tricky.  Look at the rows of bright colors!  the many different pictures!  and all the words! on this puzzle.  It was much easier to be able to help KarateKid with his puzzle skills by suggesting that first we sort for those big white letters at the top, then the edge pieces, then sort by color and work on one row or section at a time.  Being able to break a big puzzle down into easy sections was really fabulous for him.

Periodic Puzzle 02

Of course, it’s also great that the puzzle is the periodic table, so we could spend time as we put it together musing over the names of the elements, why the different pictures were chosen and what they represent, as well as how the different groupings work.  I think that doing this puzzle is much more helpful to sparking a love of chemistry than just looking at the table, and it was fascinating for both of us!

Thanks to Pappy & Grandma Nita!

Game Kids: FamilyFluxx and EcoFluxx

21 Feb

A package in the mail… return address: Looney Labs?  Pure fun in the mailbox!

This weekend we were delighted to preview the two newest re-releases from Looney Labs’ award-winning Fluxx games – FamilyFluxx and EcoFluxx.

Our family has loved Fluxx games for years, since the original came out and our dear friends Jody & Nathan introduced us to it.  The basic premise of any Fluxx game is very simple: draw a card, then play a card.  As cards are played, the rules of the game change: how many cards to draw, how many to play, and even what the goal is that will let you win!

The ever-changing rules make the games always feel new and fresh, as well as very, very interactive.  You may think you know what you’ll do on your next turn to win… until your husband plays the “Hand Limit Zero” card and you lose everything you were holding.  The flip side of this chaos is that sometimes, luck just lands in your lap and you happen across the winning combination.  The wild and crazy amount of luck and chance make the Fluxx games great choices for a range of ages.  There’s not much strategy, not much pre-planning, so the kids have as good a chance of winning as the adults do.

This week, Looney Labs will re-release two of their popular Fluxx titles in slightly revamped forms.

FamilyFluxx, which is geared towards slightly younger ages and includes a smaller deck that uses simple household items and fun goals, has not been changed much at all.  Only a new rules sheet and a now-standard flat box are different from the original.

FamilyFluxx is a great way to introduce kids to the idea of a game with changeable rules.  Games of FamilyFluxx usually last about 15-20 minutes.  Some reading is required, though, as all the action cards are different and need to be read to know how to use them. Poor GoGoGirl misses out on most of the fun, although she can play a very simplified version with only Keepers (the green cards you keep in front of you, like The Gift and Cake) and Goals (the pink cards that tell you how to win, like Happy Birthday!).  A few more years and she’ll be reading enough to play the full version!

EcoFluxx is geared towards slightly older kids – and has even been correlated to the National Life Science Content Standards for levels 5-8 and 9-12.  Lots of new cards have been added into the new version of EcoFluxx, including new Creepers – cards that prevent anyone from winning – Flood, Drought, and Forest Fire.

New goals and cards in EcoFluxx include “Eats” goals to demonstrate food web connections.  For example, for “Bear Eats Fish,” whoever has the Bear card on the table can win if anyone in the game has Fish out.  These new cards make the game a more complex experience, but for families with younger kids, Looney Labs has included an “Easy” version in the rules, telling families which cards to pull out of the deck to make a simpler game.

Even better, 5% of sales from EcoFluxx are donated to environmental groups, such as the Nature Conservancy.

We have had so much fun in the past few days trying out these two new releases, and EcoFluxx has really won a place in our hearts.  I love the “Herpetologist” goal – you need at least one reptile and at least one amphibian!

If your family hasn’t tried Fluxx yet, you really should find a version that speaks to you – besides the original Fluxx, FamilyFluxx, and EcoFluxx, there are ZombieFluxx, MartianFluxx, Monty Python Fluxx, and Fluxx en Espanol.

Looney Labs provided me with copies of these games for the purposes of this review, but did not compensate me in any other way.  The opinions above are mine.

Game Kids: Walk the Dogs (and a Giveaway!)

17 Feb

My kids have a new favorite family game:
Walk the Dogs by SimplyFun.

That Doggie Bag of 63 tiny plastic doggies is absolutely the game’s biggest draw.  My kids – and all the other kids we’ve played this game with – are so interested in holding and touching, trading and arranging these dogs even before the game begins.

Walk the Dogs 1
The first step is to find a nice big space to play, and the kids take all of the tiny dogs out of the bag and line them up in one big, long, curving, snaking line.  Just make sure that the dogs are all head-to-tail.  Even this first step is a fun one for the kids!

Walk the Dogs 2

Each player gets two cards to hold and draws a third card at the beginning of each turn.  The cards let you take dogs from the front of the line, the back of the line, your choice, or from another player’s dogs.  When you take dogs from the main line, you add them to your own doggie line in front of you.  After all the dogs have been claimed, you score points for the dogs in your own line – groups of 2, 3, or 4 dogs score better than a single dog, and that adds simple strategy as you’re choosing your dogs during the game.

Walk the Dogs 4

KarateKid, who is 7, enjoys the simple strategy of the game and tries to plan a couple of moves ahead to string together the most dogs of one kind.

What I love about Walk the Dogs is that GoGoGirl, who is 3, can play right along with us, minus any thought of strategy!  She draws a card on her turn, chooses one of her cards to play, and counts the correct number of dogs from the line.  It’s a great game to play to include her – she gets just as many turns as everyone else, and gets to hold the cards, play the cards and arrange her dogs.

Walk the Dogs 5

Another thing that I like about this game is that once you’ve learned the rules, you can keep the dogs and the deck of cards right inside the “Doggie Bag” that comes with the game, and that makes the game very easy to take along wherever you go – we’ve played Walk the Dogs at friends’ homes, the Y, and several restaurants!

It’s easy to learn, extremely appealing to kids, and encourages a little bit of strategic thinking.

Does it sound good to you too?  The folks at SimplyFun have sent me an extra copy to give away!

If you’d like to win your own copy of Walk the Dogs, please leave us a comment. And my kids love reading interesting comments, so it would be nice if you could tell us your kids’ favorite game, or a funny story about dogs, or something else to liven up our day!

For extra entries, you can blog, tweet, and/or post at Facebook about this contest – just leave an extra comment telling me how you spread the word, and where.

I’ll leave this contest open until MechDaddy’s birthday – March 5 – so you have 2 weeks and 2 days to spread the word and enter!  Good luck.

This review and giveaway was sponsored by SimplyFun.  They provided me with a copy of the game to review and a copy to give away, but did not compensate me in any other way.  The opinions above are mine.

Game Kids: Tiki Topple

8 Jan

One of the games that we picked out to give MechDaddy for Christmas was Tiki Topple.  I had heard good things about the game in several places – Games Magazine, maybe – but we’d never played it.  It has become a fast favorite for an after-dinner game around here!

Tiki Topple is a position-changing game, similar in some ways to two of our other favorites, Guillotine and Walk the Dogs.  It’s set up for 2-4 players ages 10-adult (but you know what I think about age recommendations!) by Gamewright Games.

The game starts with 9 colored wooden tikis placed in semi-random order on the game board.  Players are dealt a Secret Tiki card which shows three colored tikis in order: if the tikis on your card match the top three tikis on the board at the end of the round, you earn points.  Three or four rounds are played, depending on the number of players, and at the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.  (I say that the tikis are “semi-random” because they must be grouped by the symbol on the back, one symbol set at the bottom, one in the middle, and one at the top.  The Secret Tiki cards are set up so that each player is trying to get one of each symbol, and so one each from bottom, middle and top – this eliminates the occasional pure-luck win where you’re dealt a card and all of your tikis are already at the top.)

TikiTopple 2

Each player has a set of 7 cards: move up 3, move up 2, two move up 1′s, a Tiki Topple card, and two Tiki Torch cards.  In turn, players play one card to try to rearrange the tikis.  A Tiki Topple card will take any tiki out of the stack and put it at the very bottom, and the Tiki Torch cards take the tiki from the very bottom out of the pile entirely for the rest of that round.  The round ends either when only 3 tikis remain on the stack or when all players have played all of their cards.

TikiTopple 1

The rules are that simple, definitely easy for 7 yo KarateKid to learn.  Some interesting strategy and gameplay has been developing in our evening games.  It adds an element of planning and strategy to realize that each player has exactly the same cards, and KarateKid has been starting to watch for when one player has already used his move up 3 or his Tiki Topple, waiting to make a big move until he feels it’s safe.  MechDaddy has used a bluffing strategy where he moves a tiki he doesn’t need up closer to the top, then laughed in delight as KarateKid and I teamed up to Topple and Torch it… needlessly, leaving MechDaddy’s real tikis safe.

Tiki Topple is very quick, and light, but still has room for KarateKid to think about strategy and develop some plans, not just for moving the tikis themselves, which is good for spatial reasoning and programming, but also to work on his psychological gameplay, trying to outwit MechDaddy.  This game is on high rotation at our house!  Have you played it?

Game Kids: Funglish

2 Jan

This holiday season, we’ve been playing a new word game: Funglish.  We found the Hasbro game at Target, with a sticker on the box saying it was available only at Target.  I’m not sure if the game will be distributed anywhere else now that the shopping frenzy has ended!

In Funglish, each player has a turn to get the other players to guess words from a card – which is a common thread in games like Taboo, Guesstures and Pictionary.  The twist with this new game is that you can’t speak or act, but give clues by choosing words from a set of cards and adding them to the easel.

The word cards range from colors (red, blue, white, as well as things like spotty and stripy) to size words (big, fat, long, rectangular), from origins (American, British, African, Asian) to more unusual descriptors (manmade, aquatic, human, edible, living).

The easel has three sections: Definitely, Kind Of, and Not.  The object of the game is to choose from the wide array of descriptive word cards for words to place in the different categories to get the other players to guess the word you’re trying to describe.

Funglish Example

This was one of KarateKid’s turns: Definitely metal, big and manmade.  Kind of high tech, rough, pointy, and smooth.  Not electric.

You are allowed to nod or make a little motion with your hands to show the other players when they’re on the right track.  MechDaddy guessed the Statue of Liberty and KarateKid rolled his hands… which led us to figure it out – it’s the Eiffel Tower.

Funglish is a fun word game which, like Apples to Apples, helps level the playing field between kids and adults because there is a specific set of pre-selected words.  It’s a little easier to play with mixed ages than a word game that relies on your own vocabulary, something like Scrabble or Boggle, where older players have a definite advantage.

Playing Funglish

We played for the first time over Thanksgiving and KarateKid was thrilled to play a word game with his wordsmith Aunt Gwyn!  We’ve played it several times since then and it’s still one of his favorites.  And it’s a game that’s just as much fun for adults as it is for the kids, so it’s a wonderful family game.

In the example above, he’s describing something that is Definitely paper, lovable, and manmade, Kind of pink and white, and Not living, high tech, or edible.  Pink and white paper that’s lovable?  Sounds like a valentine to me!

I think the game is a great way to play with words.  It encourages KarateKid to think about things in a different way – not only by describing an object, but by defining something by what it is not, or by what makes it distinctive.  What’s important about a word?  It’s not important to say that a valentine is not stone, or that it’s kind of small.  He had to choose the descriptive cards that would tell us the most about the target word in the shortest amount of time.

My biggest problem with the game – especially playing it with a 7 year old – is that each word is in a different font.  Some words are hard for him to read at a glance, and he has no hope of reading them sideways or upside-down, so he always has to be straight-on to the word cards and the easel, no matter who is giving the clues.  (Aunt Gwyn also points out that some of the fonts are a little too much, like the stereotypical “Asian.”)

The more we play the game, though, the more he’s becoming familiar with the word cards.  It helps that each category of card is a different color, so if he’s looking for a material word, he looks at the light gray cards, and all the color cards are black.

We really enjoy Funglish.  Let us know if you’ve played it too!

Game Kids: Five Little Monkeys

30 Dec

GoGoGirl was excited to unwrap two new games from Aunt Robin for Christmas: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Game and Five Little Monkeys Can’t Catch Me! Game, both for 2-4 players ages 3 and up by University Games.  These became instant favorites of hers & we’ve played them both at least once each day in the past week and a half – and on one memorable day, we played them over and over for hours.  Both games have moving parts (a bouncing bed and a snapping crocodile) as well as spaces where the kids act things out (brushing teeth or being a monkey) that set these games apart from less active games like Candyland.


Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed is a collect-and-win game.  On your turn, you spin the spinner (numbered 1-6) and move your monkey around the bed.  As your monkey travels around the board, you land on spaces that let you act out a bedtime routine: brushing teeth, taking a bath, putting on pajamas, and going to bed.  When you act out one of these, you earn a matching token.  Earn all 4 types of tokens and you win.  You can also land on spaces that let you put more monkeys of your color on the bed.  Get 4 monkeys on the bed and you win.  The goals are simple and exciting.


The other active part of the game is that little red bedpost you see above.  After each of your turns, you push the bedpost button down.  Most of the time, nothing happens, but sometimes the yellow mattress POPS up and the monkeys go flying.  Any monkeys that fall off the bed have to stay off, so you have to work harder to get 4 on the bed at once.


Both kids love this game.  GoGoGirl can use it to work on number recognition on the spinner (she needs lots of help) and the one-to-one correspondence of counting spaces while moving along the board (she’s nearly independent).  The goals are clear enough – 4 tokens or 4 monkeys – that she can easily see when she’s close to winning.  The actions are fun – she’s “brushing her teeth” in the picture above.  She laughs hysterically when I go through an elaborate “bath,” pretending to wash my hair and scrub between my toes.  The popping bed adds an element of excitement and suspense that keeps KarateKid involved in the game.


These games are both based on the books of the same titles by Eileen Christelow, which are in turn based upon the familiar action songs.  We have sung both “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” and “Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree” to our kids since before they can remember, so there’s plenty of singing along while we play the games, too.


Five Little Monkeys Can’t Catch Me! is a race-around-the-board game.  On your turn, you spin the spinner (in this game, just 1-4) and move your monkey around the crocodile.  If you land on a space with an X, you have to put your other monkey on the X space next to the crocodile’s head.  At the end of each turn, you press the red button on the crocodile’s back to see if he will SNAP his head at the monkeys, possibly flinging them off the board.  Players who have a monkey flung off the board have to move their racing monkey back to the last safe “Hug Mama” spot they had passed on the outer track.  The first monkey to make it to the “Finish” space wins.


We usually have to help GoGoGirl find where to move back to, as the backwards movement isn’t something she’s used to in a game.  She does understand, though, that going back is bad because she wants to be the first to get to the end.  Besides a very clear goal, this game also has plenty of acting.  There are crocodile spaces… where you snap at the other players while making your most ferocious crocodile snapping face, like this:


There are hug mama spaces, which I take full advantage of, adding a house rule that every time you land on one, you have to hug ME, because I’m the mama.  (Even if I’m not playing, the kids come running down the hall to hug me when they land there!)  Of course there are also funny monkey spaces too:


There are also “Snap!” spaces, where you keep pushing the crocodile’s button until he snaps and the monkeys go flying.  I think my kids prefer the action in this game to the other one – the snapping crocodile is a little more thrill-seeking and scary than a popping bed, and they love to chase each other around being crocodiles and monkeys.  Unfortunately, there are two problems with this game.  The first is that the crocodile button itself is physically hard to press, much harder than the bed button, and so GoGoGirl can’t use it independently.  Sometimes we help her hand-over-hand, but by the end of the game she’s usually just telling someone to press it for her.


The other problem is that this game seems to drag on.  While we can finish the Jumping on the Bed game in just 5-10 minutes, Can’t Catch Me usually takes 15-20, which is a long time for a 3 year old to stay involved in one suspenseful game without getting distracted into a pretend play of monkeys and crocodiles.  Nearly every game dissolves into chasing each other around the room, whooping and snapping at each other!  We’re going to start playing this game with the 1-6 spinner and see if the extra movement helps speed up the game.  I also think she’ll grow into this game, as she develops the strength to push the button on her own and the patience to stay with the game until there’s a winner, so the problems we have with it right now won’t always slow us down.

For now, GoGoGirl is so pleased to have her Very Own Games, not hand-me-downs or picked up at yard sales, but brand new from the store and based on some of her favorite fingerplays.  She loves playing them both and I’m excited that our games-before-bed time is starting to include her games too.  Thanks, Aunt Robin!