A Year of Innovative Games
Seven New Favorites
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Posted: 2011-09-22 12:48:06 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 


 

 


2011 Award
I Spy Spectacular!
(Briarpatch $24.99 Score: )

A challenging game with an innovative playing platform. Built on the concept of the popular I Spy books, this is a fun way to develop visual discrimination--the ability to notice small details. There are two very different games with reversible images on the cards and rings of the spinner platform.

Game 1: Players take turns at spinning the rings. When the spinner stops an arrow points to a pie-shaped area. Players must then look for two cards that match the multiple images in that section. Players who find the two matching cards receive a token. The winner of the game is the first to collect 10 tokens. The game can be played co-operatively and we suggest doing that especially with younger players.

Game 2: Flip the cards and the images on the spinner rings. The center ring has the words And or Not. Spin the platform; if the middle ring says AND the players must find a card that shows the object on the top ring and the bottom ring. If the middle rings says NOT players must find cards that do not have either of the objects pictured. Game 2 may be visually easier, but the concept of looking for something that is not there can be daunting for young players. I Spy Spectacular is labeled 5 & up. We think 5's will like playing co-operatively or with a partner. There are a lot of very small images that may be tough going for many fives who still tend to look at the world more globally. They will need practice in noticing small details. In part, that is what makes this a good game for developing this kind of fine tuned looking--a skill needed for reading. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2011 Award
eeBoo Obstacles
(eeBoo $17 Score: )

Looking for an open-ended cooperative game that will wake up the imagination?  Try Obstacles!

Players take turn putting down an Obstacle card--a picture of a swamp, a desert, a maze or other challenge. Players then use smaller cards such as a vine to climb over, a vacuum cleaner to make a path, a cookie with magical powers. The solutions are  pictures of familiar items. The player have to come up with the imaginative ways to use these items to get from one obstacle to another.   This is a fun game for 2-5 players. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Hoot Owl Hoot!
(Peaceable Kingdom $14.99 Score: )

In this color matching game the object is to get the owls home to the forest before sunrise. Players draw cards and move the owls along the pathway of matching colors. But watch out! If you draw a sun card from the pile you must move the sun toward sunrise. Be careful! All the owls must get back before the sun makes it all the way to dawn! The rules are simple, the turn taking is quick and there's even a little science thrown in with the concept of owls being nocturnal creatures. The colors on the playing board are not the usual primary colors, so there is an opportunity for extending the language of color names to include: lavender rather than purple, teal blue rather than just blue, hot pink rather than red, chartreuse or lime green rather than just green plus bright yellow and orange. A cooperative game for 2-4 players. Also see Count Your Chickens game from the same company. 4 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Reverse Charades Jr. Edition
(Gryphon Games  $25 Score: )

This is definitely more fun when you have a crowd of six or more players. It's played with teams, so divvy up the group and one member of the team is the guesser. A team leader draws a card and everyone on the team acts it out together--while the guesser has one minute on the timer to guess what they are doing. The team gets one point if they get it. Players on each team rotate so everyone has a turn at being a guesser. No talking allowed or you lose a point! There are 750 double-sided cards so you won't be repeating any words soon. Marked 6 & up. We'd say 8's and up will enjoy this even more.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
City Square Off
(Gamewright $19.99 Score: )

Know a city planner in the making? An interesting new strategy game that you play head to head against one other opponent. Each player gets to select a building to place somewhere on their grid. On each turn you pull a shape card that dictates which of the differently shaped tile pieces to place around your building. The key is to make sure that you always have room to place the next tile without going outside the city limits. A fast-paced game that helps work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, and ability to problem solve. Also a great way to discuss your own city planning...something many kids (and grown-ups) take for granted. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.   We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Simon Flash
(Hasbro $32.99 Score: )

All our testers from 8-18 were wowed by this new version of Simon. There are four games you can play with this new twist on one of the early electronic games. The Yellow game challenges players to move the four-color cubes in the right order to turn off all the lights. They Red game plays a color scramble and players have to line the cubes up in their original order. The Blue game is Simon's Secret color and you have to find it by lining the cubes up until they all light up with the same color. The Green game is like the classic Simon. You press and then have to remember and play back longer sequences in each round. These games require memory, logic and quick thinking. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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