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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Categories: Games

 


2014 Award
Thinkfun Last Letter Game
(Thinkfun $12.99 Score:)

Deal out five of the 61 cards to each player. Put the remaining pile of cards on the table. Now the dealer turns the top card over and name something pictured on that card. All players including the dealer must now find something on one of their cards that begins with the same letter the dealerís word ended with. That player puts down her card and the next player must find a picture of something that starts with the last letter of the last word called. This is not as simple as it sounds and play can be rapid fire. Winner is the first to discard all his cards. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Spot it! Freeze
(Blue Orange Games $25 Score:)

Newest addition to the Spot it! games, a timer that really puts the pressure on players as they try to spot the matching images on two cards. There are different ways to play and two different setting on the timer that add to the challenge. However you play there is only one matching pair on any two cards, so you have to be fast. Our testers were not sure the timer would be fun for all players; it is definitely for older players. This set of cards features "temperature-charged" things such as polar bears, camels, umbrellas, beach chairs, etc. Instead of the usual round tin, the cards store in the timer, making this still an easy-to-take along game for family fun. Our testers also like the stand-alone game of Spot It Splash, no timer needed, just match up images that all relate to the water, such as boats, fish, sand castles and such. 8 to adult.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Zingo! Word Builder
(Thinkfun $19.99 Score:)

Our testers loved the fast-paced action of sliding the zinger machine to reveal two letters. Players take letter that they can use to complete a word on their playing boards. Possible words do vary so this game is rarely ever the same. In fact, it helps beginners see all the variations they can make as well as demonstrating the need to look at all the letters to see the difference between words that look almost alike. First player to fill his board is the winner. A fun way to reinforce reading skills for beginners who are learning to build phonetically regular three letter words. 5 & up

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Bananagrams Go Wild
(Bananagrams $14.99 Score:)

Like other Bananagrams word games, this is played with letter tiles but without a scrabble type board. Each player takes the correct number (depending on the number of players) and tries to be the first to use them horizontally and vertically. The game comes with six wild tiles that can be used for any letter. Our testers thought this newest game was going to take forever until they got going. As soon as one player uses up all of her tiles she must draw from the slush pile and so must everyone else. The game ends when there are fewer tiles than the number of people playing. Our testers liked this one and agreed that it was a game for older players. The package says 7 & up, but they thought this was more like a good choice for 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Magic School Bus Math Explosion
(The Young Scientists Club $29.99 Score:)

Math Explosion makes math a blast! Basically, this is a flashcard game, except it does not come with premade cards. You get to select the ones that match your child's individual needs. You go on line to print out the right ones to reinforce the child's skills level. Scholastic has provided your choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication tables and division problems that you print out on colorful paper they provide. The game board comes with a small mountain and container where the vinegar cup goes (be forewarned the mountain is a bit out of shape since it comes smushed with rubber bands to fit it into the box...and they do not provide vinegar or the baking soda needed for play, but it, that said, you probably won't mind. Here's how it works. Players take turns answering math facts and if they get the right answer they advance on the board... with a chance to add a spoonful of baking soda to the playing piece cup. The first to reach the volcano gets to pour the baking soda into the volcano. You could say this game is a blast, with kids racing to be the one to set off the explosion, which, by the way collects neatly in a tray provided. Science and math, a fun combo for kids at various grade levels. We generally do not encourage games that are designed around flashcards. They are not for everyone. Keep in mind, flashcards do not teach math, they reinforce it. For developing speed and memory they can be useful.  But for kids still struggling with basics you might want to find another way to build confidence instead of speed. 6-10

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Surfside Scramble
(Educational Insights $12.99 Score:)

A summery look to a word game played with mini-flip-flop cards. Each card is printed with two different letters on each side. Players take 15 flip-flops, turn the timer over and proceed to use all their flip flops before the timer runs out! Part of the challenge is in linking the words since you must use the last letter of one word to start the first letter of the next word, for example...if cat is your first word the linking word will start with "t" as in top...and the next word must start "p." Players receive points for building the longest series of words, the longest word, and the greatest number of words. It's a fast paced twist on scrabble that can be enjoyed by mixed age groups.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Crash
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

If you like Jenga-styled games, this is a fun variation. At first we could not imagine that it would work. The idea is that you set up four stories of towers (each has ten columns holding up the ring). Each player takes a turn pulling out columns and then adding that column above. While we had our doubts, it turns out that we could add all the other levels.  Great fun--but we believe this is a much better game for the 8 & up crowd, not the marked 4 & up.  The tension, not to mention the fine motor skills required to play this game  will be too much for many kids (and certainly most 4 year olds).

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Gamewright Qwixx
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

Of the new games from Gamewright this season, Qwixx is the most challenging but ultimately our testers liked it  once they got the hang of the game play. The set comes with six dice, two white, one red, one, blue, one green and one yellow.  The color of dice is important to how the game works.  The set also comes with 100 score sheets that have numbers that are color-coded.

The "active" player first rolls the two white dice.  The player then takes that number and crosses it out on one of the color-coded lines.  Other players can follow suit but they are not required to do so. The active player combines one of the white die with one of the colored die. That number and color is then marked off on the corresponding line. Other players can again do the same, but are not required to do so. The dice then passes to the next player.

What complicates the game is that once you mark off a number on the color-coded grid you can not mark off any future number to the left of that number. Trust me, this makes sense and adds to the challenge of the game.  There will be times when you can't mark any numbers off-- you then have to check off the penalty box. If you mark off all four penalty boxes, the round is over.

At the end of the game points are given for the number of marks on each line. The penalties are taken off your score. The player with the highest score wins.

While this is marked for 8 & up, we'd say more like 10 and up unless your child is very at ease with dice/math games.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Gamewright Dodge Dice
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

Unlike many dice games, the goal in Dodge Dice is to avoid points. The game comes with 10 dice. One is the "penalty" points die that tells you how many points you'll get if the round doesn't go your way. There is also an action die that makes things happen like all your points are doubled or tripled (not good!) or you can pass all the points to another player (mean but good!).  There are also skip chips that allow you to avoid the penalty points. Marked for 8 & up and designed for 2-6 players. Rounds will be fast. Our testers thought this was a fun twist on traditional dice games.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Gamewright Sushi Go!
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

We're not going to lie. We got hungry for sushi while playing this fun card game. For a generation of kids that are familiar with sushi, this will be a hit. The goal is to get the highest scoring collection of sushi. For example if you add wasabi to your nigiri - you'll get triple points. Each player gets a certain number of cards to begin (depending on how many are playing). From that hand you keep one card, place it face down. Now here's the fun part-- you pass your hand to the next player.  This keeps going until all cards are played.

There is some strategy involved in what cards you collect. For example if you have the most number of puddings, you get six points -- but if you don't the have most - you have to subtract six points from your total score.

The instructions take some time (and a grown up) to figure out but then it starts moving quickly. Marked for 8 & up and rounds take about 15 minutes to play for 2 to 5 players.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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