Top Games for Under $20
Tags: great games under $20, math games, letter games, active games, family games, preschool, early school years, later school years
Posted: 2010-02-18 19:30:16 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 

 

 


2009 Award
Richard Scarry's Busytown Eye Found It Game
(I Can Do That Games $16.99 Score: )

Put together the six foot long playing board to create a huge Busytown scene. Players race around looking for the objects pictured on the cards they draw. This is a matching game that is a bit more challenging than a simple lotto game. The big playing board is full of the vitality of one of the many Richard Scarry books that is chock full of characters in action. This is a good choice for developing language as well as visual perception and noting details. For 2-4 players, ages 3 & 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC Game
(I Can Do That Games $16.99 Score: )

Twirl the "tornado" and letters to play magically appear on the small board. These are the letters kids need to touch with a hand, foot or ear displayed next to the letter. It's a lot like your old game of Twister, but this is for those flexible little kids who are learning their letters. The giant size play mat is ideal for play dates, parties and family gathering where active play can have some extra learning power built in. For 2-4 players, ages 3 and up. This game will be ideal for early school years kids, although many preschoolers will like it as well.   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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Curious George Discovery Beach Game
(I Can Do That Games $16.99 Score: )

This is a memory game with a new format. Small objects are buried in “sand” under the playing board. Shake the box and they move around some. Puzzle like pieces cover over the “windows” to the beach. Players draw a card and put it face up for everyone to see. Spin the spinner and lift the puzzle cover and see if you can find the treasures on the cards. If you spin a “wave” you get to shake the box and move the treasures. Object is to collect the largest number of cards. A fun way to build matching skills, color concepts, as well as memory. 3 & 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Rainbow Race
(International Playthings $18 Score: )

Each player gets playing pieces that are the colors of the rainbow. A card is drawn that shows the colors in different order. Players race to stack their colors to match the rainbow card. This is a game that calls for visual memory, sequencing and speed, not to mention dexterity. They say 3 & up, we think this would be challenging but fun for older 4’s-7.
        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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
eeBoo Fairytale Game
(eeBoo $16.95 Score: )

Players take turns spinning the dial and collecting one of each item for their place ard…a hero, magical helper, magical object, transportation, and treasure. The first player who manages to collect one of each item is the winner who must now tell a story using the items collected. Although the playing pieces remain the same the items collected will rarely if ever be the same—nor will the story that the winner tells. A fun game of chance, with a creative ending. 5 & up. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Uno Moo!
(Mattel $20 Score: )

A preschool color/face matching game. Each player takes five animals from the barn and hides them behind a cardboard "fence."  Players take turns matching either the face or color of the animal on the hay loft. If they have a match their playing piece bumps the one in the hayloft into the barn. If they have no match they must draw more playing pieces. There are some other little detours to winning—a skunk that means you have to take two critters and lose your turn--the winner is the one who gets rid of his animal playing pieces first. They say 3 & up, we’d say 4's and even 5's may have some trouble with matching the faces and the many little ways you can fall behind in this game of chance. Still, our testers thought it was a fun game.

 

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: . Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Too Many Monkeys
(Gamewright $11 Score: )

Our testers loved that they were playing this game within minutes of reading the directions! Primo the Monkey would like to sleep but there are other monkeys, elephants and giraffes that are keeping him awake. The winner is the one that gets Primo sleeping all by himself. That's the storyline...the game play is a series of fast-paced rounds where you are trying to get your monkey cards in order (from one to six)...if you win the round, you get to have fewer cards...until you have only one monkey. But if you get a giraffe or elephant--you skip your turn--there are also wild cards that our players loved getting! You can play this game with 2-6 players--more fun with at least three players. 6 & up.

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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
I Spy Flip 5 Game
(Briarpatch $12.95 Score: )

Here's a quick matching game that is a step above the usual kind of one-for-one identical matching kids do with Lotto games. On the playing chips there are images of two horses, but one is may be a silhouette and others maybe yellowish or white with black markings. Matching has to do with the basic attribute of finding two horses. Game play goes on for five rounds. First to win the most matches in five games is the winner. Other versions of play are included for younger players. Also interesting, but even more challenging, Dino Flip 5 ($12.95 4.5) Sure to make a hit with dino-haulics who will know the names of the various dinosaurs pictured on the playing pieces. Making the pairs is more challenging since the shapes of some are similar and the proof is in noticing the details. That said, this is a fun game with a touch of science added to the mix. They say 4 & up, we'd say 5-8 is more like it. These are good games for developing an eye for detail, a skill needed for noticing the differences between words that look alike - as in through and thought or sight and slight. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Ring-o Flamingo
(Gamewright $20 Score: )

Our testers thought this was was "fun" and really "different". Parent testers thought the directions were clear and the start up time was very quick. The game design is, in fact, unique. You take the pink flamingoes and alligator play pieces and lock them into the board. Each player is given a life boat with color coded lifesavers on them. The idea is to save the flamingoes from the alligators--and you do this by flinging your life savers off your boat and onto the game board. The more flamingoes you save, the more points you get. This is a fast-paced game that will be enjoyed by kids and grown ups. We found the best place to play this game was on the floor. You need to move your boats back from the board in order to capture the flamingoes. It's like a board game edition of ring toss--but here everyone is tossing at the same time.

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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Scrabble Slam Card Game
(Parker Brothers $6.99 Score: ) This is a slam dunk winner with testers of mixed ages. Faster than Scrabble and paced for fun, this is a four letter game where players race to change the word by slamming a letter card on the current word to make a new word. The object is to be first to use all your cards. 2-4 players, 15 minutes a round(maybe) and fun for 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2009.

 

 

 


2013 Award
Appletters
(Bananagrams $16.95 Score: )

Packed in a red canvas zippered bag, shaped like an apple, this new game from the makers of Banangrams, is easy to throw into a travel bag for on-the-go fun. The objective here is to be the first to use up all your letters by attaching your new word to the first or last letter of the words on the table. It's different than Scrabble since you cannot add letters crossword style, only at the end of the long worm-like grid you are building. Using the same letter tiles, that fit small hands, you can play sevearal other variations. The letters have no number values written on them, but there are suggestions for scoring based on the length of the words or making palindromes (words that read the same way backwards and forward). Introduced several years ago, the instructions have been updated and simplified with suggestions for playing cooperative games. Designed to build spelling skills as well as gamesmanship in turn-taking, strategy, and playing cooperatively.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2013 Award
Pairs in Pears
(Bananagrams $17 Score: )

This letter game is designed to be played with kids from pre-readers and up. It comes with directions for simple letter matching games, spelling, and even rhyming word games.  The four sets of letters, each with a different pattern can be used with pre readers for matching or for older kids--winning more points if they can make pairs of words with the same pattern.  There are a number of excellent ideas for using the letters with beginners that have nothing to do with playing a game, ideas that will challenge beginning spellers and readers. Frankly these extra games and others that you can make up are worth the price of the game. For example, pre-readers can be encouraged to sort the letters by patterns, looking at close differences. How many rhyming pairs can they make? How many three or four letter words can they make? Can they change the words they make with just one letter? The playing pieces are larger and easier to handle. They all fit into an attractive green pear shaped zippered bag. 

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Yamslam
(Blue Orange Games $19.99 Score: )

If you love dice games and math games, Yamslam will be right up your alley. You're rolling the dice in order to collect the corresponding chips before your oppponents do. You roll in the tin container...that looks like it's a travel game for the Ocean Eleven crowd. The Vegas/poker style look of this one attracted some of our older testers. A good game for building math skills.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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