We love all kinds of games at our house; board games, video games, word games we play in the car... all of them. In terms of games the we have purchased to enjoy with our kids, we've found that we have a lot of fun with games put out by Cranium. Most of the games in this Guide are marketed for kids, but adults will enjoy playing them more than some of the classics, like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. The major reason for this is that these games offer more variety in terms of activity within the games themselves, but sometimes (as with Hullabaloo), it's because the games are quite unique in their own right.
Hasbro HULLABALOO - Now with Beginner and Advanced Modes - Active Play that Teaches and Shapes! -...
Hullabaloo is not a board game, but rather a game that involves sixteen small mats that you can scatter about a play area and a plastic audio console piece that will direct the game. The mats come in different colors and shapes, and have pictures of random objects on them (a piano, an ice cream cone).
The idea here is to get some players out onto the mats and then turn the console on. It will give directions as to what to do. If it says "skip to a yellow" or "crawl to a square," the players follow the directions. It is a game that involves movement as well as working with listening skills. It can be played with multiple players, but a single player can also use it, which I also appreciate.
The audio console decides who the winner is and when the game is over. There is no strategy here; the biggest risk is that young kids who aren't "the winner" will get upset.
Preschool, kindergarten, and lower elementary school-aged kids enjoy this game and adults often have fun playing it with them, too.
We have the original game, which included only one mode, but I see that it now includes an advanced mode. This will just add to the flexibility of the game and keep kids interested in it. That can only be a good thing.
Balloon Lagoon is a carnival-themed game created for kids ages 5 and up. It actually has four mini-games within it; the idea is that the player is randomly sent to each game in order to get points. The points translate to slim, plastic, colored balloons which are placed on the plastic playing pieces. The person to fill their playing piece up first wins.
There is a spinner in the center that you must spin with each turn. The spinner doubles as a timer; each turn is timed by the somewhat annoying carnival music that it plays.
The fun part of the game is really the mini-carnival games it offers. The most difficult one looks like the simplest; it involves trying to flick green frogs into a "pond." This would be easier if the pond didn't have what appears to be a green volcano surrounding it, but it does make it really obvious whether you have managed the task or not. I'm 39 years old and I haven't mastered it; you need to slide your finger or thumb along the back of the frog, making it jump - but it is really hard to aim. It's also a bit painful to keep trying!
The other games are much more fun, and they all teach matching or letter skills, which is great. One involves pressing levers to match four sections of a picture, and one involves taking small dice with images of snacks on it and dropping them until you match four of the snacks. My favorite is "Letter Lake," which offers a small flip book of easy-to-read words for the player to match. There's a yellow "pond" in which to fish for magnetic letters that match the words; the fishing "pole" has a magnet on the end to pull them up with.
Our kids enjoyed this game for the variety of games within it that were appropriate to their age. Julia, who is now 8, will still play with this one from time to time. Alex is not interested much anymore now that he's 12, but as a parent I still like playing this one with Julia.
Cadoo is my favorite game for grade school kids, both because it is incredibly fun and because it includes both competitive and cooperative tasks. The box claims that there are "8 kinds of fun," but it almost seems like there are more because each card in the game has something interesting, fun, or funny on it.
The game board has sixteen purple spots on it; the idea is to get your (or your team's) color game piece on four in a row. To get a piece on, you need to succeed at one of the tasks. You roll a die to find out whether it will be a "solo" or a "combo" task (or if you can choose which one you want yourself).
Solo tasks are things like finding several random items in the house or building where you are, figuring out a trivia question, or figuring out a word game like a rebus. Combo tasks are completed with other players or teams, and include acting out a word and making others guess what it is, or drawing or sculpting something and making others guess what it is.
The tasks are timed, and, while they aren't impossible, they aren't easy. The sheer variety of tasks and topics that Cadoo covers keeps the game interesting, but a lot of it is just funny. Seeing someone trying to sculpt a hot dog out of the awful purple clay the game provides makes it hard not to laugh!
The one drawback to this game really is that clay. We finally had to toss ours out and use the clay from Cranium Turbo Edition for Cadoo because the clay got gross. We could order some more of the clay through Cranium's website, but I think it might make more sense to invest in some decent clay in the future.
This is still a popular game at our house, and it's the only one in which I've ever seen my kids both try to lose in order to keep the game going. I'm not saying they do that every time, but the time it happened, it was really sweet to see them trying to figure out how best to place their game pieces so as not to win. (Eventually they dropped the game board aspect entirely and just had fun with the activities. How cool!)
Our well-loved copy of Cariboo (which cost much less than the insane price that is listed here) was destroyed a long time ago, but wow did this game get a lot of attention from our kids when they were younger. Created for kids aged 3 and up, this is a game that helps kids learn their colors, shapes, and some letters while they seek a "treasure."
The box itself is the game, so it's easy to store the items that come with it. There are six colored balls (which were a huge draw to Julia when she was little; she didn't want to play the game so much as she wanted to spend time putting the balls into the game), as well as a "key" and some playing cards, each of which have a color, shape, or letter on them.
The balls are dropped into the game and they spread out randomly; the object is to find all of them so that they can be taken out and placed in the slot at the edge of the game. When the sixth and final ball is placed, the treasure chest on the game opens to reveal a "jewel." The person who places that final ball is the winner.
To find the balls, the players must use the "key" to open the boxes under which the balls may be hiding. The player must match the shape, color or letter on the card to the one on the game board.
This is a simple, fun concept (although it's tricky to describe well!), and both our kids enjoyed it. It's also not a game that takes forever to play (I always felt that Chutes and Ladders was eternal), so it's a good one for preschool aged children.
Cranium Turbo Edition is similar to Cadoo in terms of types of activities, but it is geared for "teens and adults" and features a different sort of game board.
In this game, you or your team must move around the board, completing tasks. Once you get to the last spot on the board, to win you have to complete a "Finale Rally," which involves completing tasks from special decks frome each of the four categories of activity cards. This is done over the course of several turns, however, so everyone else can continue to have fun while you are aiming to win.
Like Cadoo, there are activities like drawing and sculpting included, along with acting out activities, figuring out facts, and solving word problems. The box boasts that there are sixteen discrete activities, and I will have to trust that is the case; it's hard to tell because when you play this game you are really quite busy!
These activities are more difficult in many cases than the activities in Cadoo. For example, in Cadoo you might be asked to draw something simple. With Cranium Turbo Edition, you might be asked to draw something simple... but with your eyes shut. Then the other players or team have to figure out what it is.
We have had great fun playing this game with friends, but it's also excellent with our kids. Even though Julia is only 8 and Alex is only 12, it has worked really well to team each of them up with a parent to play this game. The range of activities keeps everyone engaged and we have had a lot of laughs playing as a family.
The Turbo Edition also comes several sets of cards that are specifically created for events like bridal showers and family reunions. These can be used in conjunction with the rest of the game to make the game more appropriate for particular occasions.
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