Posts Tagged “games”

World’s Smallest Toys Make Big Impact With Pocket Size Nostalgia

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Disclosure: We are excited to be partnered with The World’s Smallest and The World’s Coolest brands to bring you this review.  As part of this collaboration, we’ve been provided with samples of the below items in exchange for our honest feedback and review of the items. The opinions and thoughts expressed herein are strictly our own and represent our honest opinion of the products. Affiliate links may be included in this article.

Sometimes you come across the smallest things that offer such a huge impact… and that’s exactly how we felt about The World’s Smallest toy line. While some of the items are just darn right adorable… some bring you back to your childhood and there’s nothing to compare to that feeling. For instance the World’s Smallest Lite Brite reminds me of time spent with cousins getting creative. The World’s Smallest Tinker Toys or Magic 8 Ball, Uno and Lincoln Logs are among some of the other “throw back” pieces. Check out the entire line with Super Impulse. As kids, we’d play Uno for hours… it was easy.

These little reproductions are fully functional, with buttons, game pieces or lights & sounds to make it an authentic experience and reproduction. Imagine playing Space Invaders or Frogger on the tiniest arcade. Super cool but what’s even cooler is describing these things and sharing our childhood stories with our kiddos. It was a different time and much to be learned from sharing these stories.

Speaking of learning… the Crayola sets are fantastic for sparking on-the-go creativity and learning fun. Love the fact that it comes as a key chain, so you can clip it on a backpack or lunch tote. Kids are obsessed with all the backpack clip on accessories… in my opinion the Crayola set beats them all out. The fact that they come in sturdy cases, means they will hold up at the bottom of your purse. These little carry-ever creative kits… as well as mostly the entire The World’s Coolest line… are the perfect “emergency” kit when at the emergency room, or soccer field or DMV.

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Make Family Game Night a Holiday Tradition

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Family Game Night Favorites

 

Disclosure: We were provided sample product in exchange for honest reviews. As always, the opinions and content shared within is strictly our own. This article contains affiliate links. #Sponsored

Family Game Night

You know that space between “I can’t eat another cookies” and “my fingers are numb from wrapping”? Indulge in a break from it all and try a Holiday Game Night. Maybe expand it to include some friends, neighbors, coworkers… or maybe just keep simple with your immediate clan. Either way, this season brings some fantastic (and fantastically easy) games for such an occasion. Let’s take a look:

 

Crozzit, for example, is a piece of cake to set up, explain and dive in. No stress. This is a 2 player game that plays pretty fast (15 mins) and perfect for “in-between” moments. Object: Each player races to build a path to the opposite side of the board, which crisscross each other. Simple. Fun. Done.

Family Game Night Favorites

Turnspell is another quick game (20-25 mins) geared for ages 10+ with elements of Scrabble and elements of Boggle. A turnstile board center piece is placed in the middle with four alphabet tiles facing each player (2 to 4 players). Each participant selects a tile from the four directly in front of him/her to place on their individual tile grid platforms. The turnstile spins, participants select another tile in an attempt to spell four four-letter words on their grid.

Family Game Night Favorites

Mousetrap, an oldie but goodie because it is so hands-on. If I’m being honest… I’ve passed on this game because of my PERCEIVED setup requirements, however… you build the trap as part of the game. I dislike games with complicated setups and assumed the mousetrap needed to be assembled in advance of game play. WRONG. So… this game is suddenly more appealing and perhaps other parents had the same misconception that I had. Mousetrap is a Mensa Award winning game… and now I better understand why, as children are assembling the contraption that is supposed to capture opponents mice. Colorful, active, and hands-on… Mousetrap is highly recommended.

Family Game Night Favorites

Exit Game is a “one & done” game, meaning that you play it once, use the pieces, puzzles, materials and then discard. The Exit Game is an escape-the-room type of game with clues and a variety puzzles, a decipher wheel and solution cards. It includes riddle cards for puzzles & activities, help cards, 2nd help cards and solutions for each puzzle or activity in case you get stuck. This is a group game, best with four or more players. It is a cooperative game, whereby everyone is working together to solve the puzzle. There are three distinct variations including The Secret Lab, The Abandoned Cabin, and Pharaoh’s Tomb.

Family Game Night Favorites

Not Parent Approved is a fast pace, kid-friendly card game sure to get the giggles going. This card game was inspired by Cards Against Humanity, which is strictly adult oriented. Not Parent Approved has kid-appropriate content without stripping all the hilarity away. The game consists of blue question cards and red answer cards. Taking turns, a question card is drawn and read allowed. Each participant holds 3 answer cards and must choose one to best answer the question posed each turn. The person reading the question is the judge of the best answer offered and that person gets points. It play fast, it plays fun… and it packs up easy for on-the-go fun.

family game night favorite

Let’s talk about Blurble. First off, it’s a fun title for a game, silly in and of itself. Blurble is another party game, whereby each participant has a small stack of cards and go against each other player individually by flipping the top card and quickly shouting out another word that starts with the same letter. Sounds simple enough… but offers enough tongue twisting challenge to be entertaining. There are additional educational games and activities suggestions provided as well.

family game night

Lastly, we want to bring to you Who’s The Dude. This is a family charades game… with one additional family member: The Dude. We’ve adopted our blow up friend and named him Stan. Stan hangs out more than just playing Who’s The Dude (he’s watched movies with us, crafted with us… we just have fun with him where we can). However, the game is surely entertaining enough because it comes with plenty of objects and activities that players act out with the dude for the other team to guess. Victoria got a huge kick out of using Stan as a fly swatter during one of her rounds. Silliness and laughs… isn’t that what it’s all about in the end. A great family game and perfect for any kid-friendly New Year’s party too.

family game reviews

Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide for more gift suggestions… and subscribe to our mailing list and/or YouTube channel to get updates when new game reviews are posted. Happy Holidays.

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Tips for Managing Too Many Toys

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With the holidays approaching, here are a couple tips for managing the existing piles of toys that never seem to make it in toy box, while new ones are on their way. This article was republished to offer a refresher on these toy tips.

Thank you, Pley for supporting our blog and mission. This is a sponsored post by Pley although all the suggestions, opinions and text expressed herein are strictly mine.

Marissa with too many toys Profile Pic

Are you faced with toy box overflow while your munchkins circled everything thing in the Toys R Us catalog for this year’s holiday wish lists?  We’ve got solutions that go beyond donating old toys.

Marissa with toys Profile Pic

Now, don’t get me wrong… we love donating our outgrown toys to a variety of places like our local Ronald McDonald House Charity or our neighborhood thrift shop. I’ve passed down tons of cute things to smaller children in our family… but sometimes you’re just not ready to part with things.

Play time with parentSuggestion 1: The quarterly or semi-annual system. With different playsets, bath toys, puzzles and what-not, one winning solution for our house has been to select several items for use later. We’ve done this with Barbies, Playdoh, Strawberry Shortcake, crafts… pretty much anything that has a “long shelf life”. What do I mean by long shelf life for toys? I won’t put away a toy or play set with the intent to use it in the summer if after only a couple months my child could outgrow it. We know she’ll love barbies 6 months from now, and 15 months from now, so to collect them and put them in temporary storage (closet, bin, basement) for several months isn’t a wasted investment. Certain bath toys had a much shorter expiration date and weren’t put away while some of the mermaid barbies were perfect for this. The idea is that in a few months the older toys are brought out of storage and given new life. It felt like Christmas again when my husband pulled out the GI Joe’s from the yellow bag pictured above and the same for the blue bin with cards, games and such, pictured below.

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Suggestion 2: Play with your child and their toys. When a parent literally gets on the floor to play Star Wars or Transformers with their kiddo –  the toys suddenly become new again. Along these lines… think up creative ways to play with old toys. Maybe Barbie and Polly Pocket are spectators for a Rock’em Sock’em Robots match. Or perhaps giving toys a makeover with Playdoh.  Dad and Via are playing Barbie theater in the picture below.

Barbie

Suggestion 3: Car caddy. Take some of the less popular toys (preferably non-noisy) and arrange into a toy tote for the car. Perfect for car inspection lines, bank drive-through, far away day trips, etc. Also handy for grabbing something to occupy for post office lines, waiting for a hair cut or the forever-long start of a parade… because goodness knows you need to arrive an hour early to secure a spot. *Sigh* Best part – at the end of the trip, with arms full of groceries, mail, packages, empty cups, loose shoes… the toys STAY in the car.

boy girl pleySuggestion 4: The rental system. Yes, rent toys instead of buying them. Amazing new concept with Pley.com that offers a whole new way to managing toy overflow. Pley is a subscription based company where for as low as $19.99/ month parents can rent toys. pley star warsThey offer fast turn-around and FREE shipping.  Create an account, select your toy list and once a toy arrives and is played with, just return it for another on your list. Pley offers a growing selection of toys to include over 400 Lego sets. Wonderful concept that saves money, cuts down clutter and is helpful for the environment. (Photo credit: Pley.com)

Suggestion 5: Re-purpose. Old or outgrown toys (or too much of a good thing) can be reused as decorative pieces. With a little hot glue, lots of magic can happen. For instance, take a favorite small toy or doll and create a shadow box to hang in your playroom. Outgrown character toys or mobile figurines are perfect for a decorative peg board for coats/bags.  The same can be done to jazz up a plain lamp or perhaps curtain tie-backs. You might want to resist the urge to go overboard and hot glue all the stuffies to the ceiling… true story – I was twelve.

Bottom line – toys are important and as much as we hate to stub our toe on them or threaten to throw them all away… we can’t. And shouldn’t. Instead we need to find variety in managing them. We need to teach our children to respect their toys (playing with them, cleaning them and putting them away). With just a few simple systems, our children can enjoy all the benefits – yes educational benefits – of free play and quality time with parents/siblings while we manage the toy surplus.

Pley

Barbie

With the holidays approaching, it’s the perfect time to consider your current toy box situation and the various solutions to managing clutter, new toys and sentimental belongings. Let us know what your toy trick is?

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Geometric Puzzle Fun With ShapeOmetry Game

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This #sponsored post is brought to us by Think Fun. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

ShapeOmetry Profile Pic

Math isn’t the easiest thing… and certainly not trendy either. So no wonder it can be difficult sometime to get our children engaged in activities that are math-focused. ShapeOmetry is a family game, building on logic skills along with abstract and spacial reasoning, and mathematical strategies.

The game is placed solo or with a partner and the object is to solve the puzzle challenge cards as they increase in difficulty level. Each card shows you the exact blue and green game pieces to use to build identical shapes in blue and green. Trust us… it’s trickier than it sounds. Don’t be fooled with the simplicity of design or the preschool colors… this game packs some challenge.

ShapeOmetry 2

Speaking of packing… the mesh bag is quite convenient for storage and travel. And as Greg mentions in the below video, it makes for easy beach clean up should you choose to pack it in your late summer beach travels (it’s not too late). Either at home or on the go… ShapeOmetry offers a puzzling good time.

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Scavenger Hunt Reading Game

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Partnering with companies like uKloo afford us the opportunity to bring honest reviews of learning games to our readers. This is a #sponsored post whereby we were provided a complimentary copy of uKloo. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This article contains affiliate links.

ukloo

We know teaching our children to read is essential but it doesn’t have to be painful. UKloo is a scavenger hunt game that encourages children to read, as they go from clue to clue. The game features 3 reading levels and a word chart to assist them in recognizing words on the clues. Kids are so busy moving from clue to clue that they don’t realize that they are reading in the process. In the end, children find a surprise, which could be anything parents desire: chocolate chip cookies, tickets to the movies, a new coloring book. UKloo is designed to take your children on a house-wide scavenger hunt and is suggested to use 5-7 clue cards.

We liked that blank cards were included for personalizing the game. Just write a clue in dry erase marker and later wipe clean to use over and over again. Great game to get your kids up and moving while still strengthening their reading and comprehension skills. Check out our brief video review below.

 

 

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Walls & Warriors Connect Strategic Thinking with Literacy

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Connecting Critical Thinking skills and Literacy

We love when a game ties critical thinking skills to a love of reading or a topic a child is passionate about.

Thank you SmartGamesUS for providing us a review copy of Walls & Warriors. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Connecting Critical Thinking with Literacy

Back to school is in full force and in the spirit of things – we’ve found the perfect pair for connecting strategic thinking skills with literacy. Another SmartGamesUS puzzle game, Walls & Warriors, (coming soon) with knights and a castle is perfect for our adventure stories of knights and midevil times. Victoria was fascinated to learn that castles truly exist and aren’t just “part of the story”. We love the book  I Wonder Why Castles Had Moats by Philip Steele that showcases the inside of a castle… including the ever-famous bathroom. What really went on behind those stone walls? It is a great resource for bringing fantasy and history together. And as long as we’re talking castles and all… be sure to check out SmartGamesUS’ Castle Logix game as well.

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Couple the Walls & Warriors puzzle game with fictional stories about knights, such as The Barefoot Book of Knights by John Matthews. Children won’t realize that they are exercising their critical thinking skills while playing the game, especially if listening to the narrated version of the stories or chatting about them should you have had your reading time prior to game play. Either way… take the theme to a whole new level and completely amp up the educational value of these resources when paired together.

knights

Below you can see that the puzzle is appropriate for varying ages with 60 challenge cards, multiple knights (blue and red) and a single castle to defend. There are four wall pieces used to enclose any number of the blue knights (based on the challenge card layout) and the castle. The first few are pretty simple, even for Victoria (age 6) but they do get more challenging. I think everyone in the family has picked up this game on their own to play… something about the pieces and design that is enticing. LOL SmartGamesUS nailed it on this one.

walls-warriors

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Explore the Wild With Jungle Hide & Seek Game & Jungle Theme Stories

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We’ve partnered with SmartGamesUSA for a series of games and puzzle reviews. We are very excited to be working with them to provide our readers with an honest review of Jungle Hide & Seek. Affiliate links may be contained in this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.

Jungle Profile Pic

If there’s one theme that gets kids really going… it’s the wild of the Jungle. We’ve done many variations with the jungle theme because there are tons of craft ideas and great reading selections… not to mention all the animal science and habitat discovery. Here the Jungle Hide & Seek puzzle game by SmartGamesUSA pairs nicely with a couple favorite Barefoot Books: The Animal Boogie and Walking Through The Jungle (both with catchy songs and CD’s). Go wild with this theme… or just enjoy a fun puzzle with some family quiet time. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Jungle Hide & Seek and these Barefoot Books.

Jungle Hide & Seek 3

Jungle Hide & Seek is a puzzle game from SmartGamesUSA, challenging players as a single person game. Similar to well-known, Rush Hour, Jungle Hide & Seek has multiple puzzle challenges which provides lot of game play and ensures players remain on their toes. Jungle Hide & Seek is particularly meaningful because it showcases a dual-sided game board, which incidentally works as storage for the puzzle pieces. On one side you have traditional jungle animals like elephants, tigers and a baboon. On the flip side, children are introduced to nocturnal animals including the lemur, fox, and panther. Aside from being a terrific brain activity, I really like that Jungle Hide & Seek can be partnered with Halloween themes around creatures of the night. It could be used as a party game using teams. We typically leave the spooks to other families and focus on nocturnal animals for our Halloween festivities and activities. It’s all about adding in a layer of learning while having a great time.

Jungle Hide & Seek Profile Pic

As I mentioned above, Jungle Hide & Seek partners perfectly with several of our personal library books on jungle animals. If you are going to the zoo as a family or class trip, this is a perfect game to follow that experience because it speaks to the animals of the wild. Likewise, if you read a lot of stories about animals, Jungle Hide & Seek will help to bring the two activities together. This game will surely become part of our Jungle curriculum, as well as, our Animal Adventures series, both coming soon.

Walk Thru The Jungle & Animal Boogie BFB

Jungle Hide & Seek offers 80 challenges building in complexity. It is perfect for ages 7 to adult… and yes, I’ve challenged myself a couple times and have gotten as far as puzzle card #23. There are four puzzle pieces (with a green and blue side each). Using the corresponding side, players use all four puzzle pieces for each challenge and trust me, it’s a lot more challenging than I’m describing. And a little bit addicting. #JustSaying

Jungle Hide & Seek Jungle Hide & Seek 4Walking Thru The Jungle BFB

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A Simple Game for Siblings: Moose Caboose

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This is a #sponsored post whereby we were given a sample copy for review. Working with companies like Winning Moves, affords us the opportunity to bring these insights to our readers. As always, the opinions herein are strictly my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

 

Moose Caboose

Moose Caboose is a card game for 2-4 players about building trains. The object of the game is to earn as many train carriages as possible. You link carriages together by matching the colors on the cards in your hand with the cards in play. Trains continue to grow in length until a player plays a moose caboose card. When a player plays a moose caboose card they collect all the carriages on the train. At the end of the game, whoever has the most cards is the winner.

Moose Caboose is a fun and quick game to pick up and play, taking approx 15 mins. We are fans of card games that are easily packed into our grab bag for on-the-go fun and those games that are fast to play. Moose Caboose is a great game to bring with on trips to beach or wherever the family might go. Moose Caboose is designed for a younger audience and while the packaging recommends 6+ we seem to think 4 and older will do fine with supervision. And because of that we feel this is a great preschool game.

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