Monday, October 17, 2016

I SPY Eagle Eye Find-it Game (review)

University Games also sent us I SPY Eagle Eye Find-it Game for review. I was super excited about this because I'm sort of awesome at searches (word puzzles, image searches, you name it!) and I knew this would be my sort of game.

It's a very simple game to explain, there is no reading required to play, and the instructions suggest numerous ways to play including different ways to score and tournament style playing. Since Bobble and Squiggle are so young (5 and 3), I opted to not keep score at all. I mean, let's be honest: I was going to win, right? I figured that I'd just take a few seconds to remind them of the instructions, and take pictures for the review before I started searching.

The first time we played, I helped them, explaining that everyone gets one board piece (a big, cardboard card), and everyone gets one little card that has images on it. Each tiny card has 8 tiny pictures on it, but it only has one item on your game board. The game boards are 2-sided, so you technically have 8 boards. There is a bell that you place in the middle and when you find the item on your card on your board, you hit the bell. (If you are keeping score, you hit the bell and yell first; simply hitting the bell would imply you should all switch boards because you couldn't find anything.)

Honestly, I figured my 5 year old would be decent, and my 3 year old would get frustrated. This is because my husband played with us the first time and we quickly learned that there are lots of little "almost" images. By this, I mean the same item as on your card, but tilted a different way (for example, instead of a toy pig on its side, it would be standing upright, or a truck that is identical but a different number). It's actually pretty challenging!

The second time we played was about 2 weeks after first introducing them to the game. Squiggle abandoned her building activities to play, leaving the mess behind her (explaining the background in the pictures). I was a bit cocky in thinking I was going to own them at the game, apparently, because Squiggle (who is only 3, mind you) quickly put me in my place! Look at that smug face!

She found the first 3 legitimate items, first try, and very quickly. I thought she was finding near misses, or maybe simply excited to ring the bell. Nope... she was simply ruling the game. I had another image that showed her pointing out what she found on the card and on her board, but I don't want to give anything away, so I opted not to share that one. I will, instead, share an extremely up close image of part of a board to show just how detailed they are.

That being said, the game suggests ages 5 and up. I know these are suggestions, but I didn't expect a 3 year old to actually be good at it. I was going to recommend this for kids that were about kindergarten age, but I am now going to suggest that if your child (or the one you are shopping for) has an eye for detail, get the game regardless of age.

Bobble leaning over to see if Squiggle really did find something again. She did.
Despite only having 8 board images, we have not succeeded in memorizing a single thing. Each board has so much detail and there are so many cards to search off of that we've never played through all of them in one game, and many times we don't even find the items on the card since you get a new card when someone finds an item. It's really set up to keep it challenging for a long time.

You can purchase I SPY: EAGLE EYE for under $20 at, and at various retail stores. Don't forget to check out for games to suit all sorts of occasions!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is was sent this product in exchange for a review. This did not sway my opinion in any way. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Coffee Milk

The weather is changing to that lovely autumn weather here, and that just begs for a hot drink. Both of my kids love all sorts of hot drinks, even coffee, so we improvise a bit to make things more kid friendly (for them).

Not being big caffeine drinkers anyway, we keep decaf in the house (we drink ½ caff., but there is always 100% decaf available). The kids love the taste of coffee, but we’re not too keen on them having coffee as a drink. Thanks to many shopping visits to Trader Joe’s, the kids have become fond of “coffee milk”.

Coffee milk really is nothing more than a tiny bit of coffee (with whatever sweetener you desire) to a disproportionate amount of milk. At Trader Joe’s, I tend to do something like a 1:4 ratio of coffee to milk. Enough for the flavour, but also always a drinkable temperature for them.

At home, we use a Keurig with a refillable k-cup. I make a single cup of decaf coffee, split it between two mugs, and add milk. Since this is 100% decaf, I’ll do a 1:1 ratio. We also add stevia powder at home since they really don’t need a bunch of sugar. On the rare occasions they get sugar, we just stir that in before adding the milk so it dissolves better.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek ABC Game (game review)

Another character favourite is looking to be a favourite game for your little ones, only this time it's one of Eric Carle's characters! A family favourite recognized almost everywhere: The Very Hungry Caterpillar!! 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek ABC Game by Briarpatch (University Games) is geared towards the younger game-playing crowd, this game focuses on letter recognition for both uppercase and lowercase letters.

Character piece choices
The set up of the game is pretty easy. The players can choose one of 4 Eric Carle characters to be their playing piece, the cards are spread out on the floor to be visible, and you spin the spinner to determine how far you move.

There are two cards for each letter: 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase. In the example above, you can see that the letters are both the same colours, regardless of case (so both A cards will have a red A, both C cards will have a green C, etc.). This is identical to the representation on the game board to help with identification. To further assist identification, all lowercase letter cards are bordered with a blue line, and all upper case cards have an orange border. The backside of the cards show an example of a word that starts with that letter (same for both cases).

So everyone picks a character, the cards are spread out image side up (i.e. bear -- you know, opposite of what I did above... I'll get to this), and everyone is ready to go, so you spin the spinner!

You can choose to move the number of spaces shown on the spinner (in the above case, 3 spaces), or you can move to the next space with a BIG or little letter as indicated in the outside ring of the spinner (above case would be BIG letter). This is beneficial if someone just landed on the space 3 ahead of you, but 1 ahead of you was a BIG letter not yet snagged!

Bobble moving his piece
Now you may notice that I separated the lower case letters from the upper case letters in the picture above. This is not suggested in the instructions, but since Squiggle doesn't recognize most letters (unless they are in her name), I thought it would help her to have the lower case on one side and the upper case on the other. As she gets better at the letter recognition, I plan to mix them all up. 

You may also notice that, contrary to the instructions I mentioned earlier, I have the letter side up instead of the image side up. This is specifically to benefit Squiggle, as she doesn't know her alphabet, or sounds. Image side up would be more challenging for Bobble because he would see a train before he paid attention to the top of the card that said "little t", and he might think of the sound and associate with a letter that way. Since Squiggle is so new to letters, however, he obliged us in playing the "easy way" to help her learn.

When you move to a space, you have to find the image card that matches that letter, and it must be the proper case. If you land on the BIG B, you cannot select the little b card. If you select a wrong card, the card is put back down the next person gets to go. If you land on an space that someone already got a card from, you can spin and move again. If you land on an space that someone guessed incorrectly on (so they are there, but the card hasn't been taken), you may share a space.

The game ends when all players reach FINISH. The player with the most cards wins (ties result in more than one winner). 

The kids liked it so much, they insisted on playing again before bed! To make it a little more challenging for Bobble, we mixed up the upper and lower case letters.

What I love about this game is that you can alter the play to accommodate the skill level of the child(ren) playing. For Squiggle, she needs to just see the letters as she starts learning, but we always flip over the card to show the image and say what it is and what sound it makes. That usually sounds like, "B. Bear. Buh-buh-bear. Bear starts with the letter B!" As her letter recognition improves, the cases will be mixed up

As letter recognition improves, mixing the letters will help her

For someone like Bobble who knows his letters and sounds really well and is just starting to read, the image side is great. It encourages letter recognition coupled with sound recall, and also helps learn to spell/read as they see the word spelled out on the card.

The only thing I don't like about the game isn't actually an issue with this specific game at all, so much as an issue with any game with cardboard pieces that slide into a tiny plastic stand:

With young children, they get ruined quickly. Bent, ripped, you name it. We made it a household rule (...that never seems to be followed, of course) that you always leave the base on the pieces and they will be stored that way to prevent things like the above from happening. Of course, you could also just put a bit of tape around the bottom before putting it on the base. I'm sure that would help too!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek ABC Game is a great choice for an emerging reader or young preschooler. This game can be purchased for around $15, making it a fun, educational, and budget-friendly gift for any occasion. Be sure to check out for this game, and many other great games!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent this product for review. This did not influence my opinion of the game at all. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Shimmer and Shine: Genie Friends Forever (game review)

Have a Shimmer and Shine fan? Check out the Shimmer and Shine: Genie Friends Forever cooperative game from Briarpatch (University Games). Being a cooperative game, the game requires all players (up to 4) to work together to get to the end. No one person is a loser, all winners or try again!

Each player gets a magic carpet, selects their character as their playing piece, and utilizes a spinner to determine movement. There is also a token that gets flipped, so your kids might just learn a new skill! (My kids had no clue how to flip a coin before this game.)

Storage of the game is easy, provided you have a container to keep all the pieces together. We just use a sandwich baggy for all of the player pieces, token, and 32 jewels.

Spinner, cardboard coin for flipping, magic carpet, and playing pieces.

Counting only goes up to 3, so for those children just learning to count, it will be easier than some other games I've reviewed. In fact, recommended ages are 3 and up! To start, all 32 jewels are placed on the castle.

Jewels are on the castle and we're ready to pick our playing piece!

No reading is required for this game except for the person reading the rules the first time around. The game is two-part. You start out on the start space on the first half of the board (the side with the castle). You spin to move, and each space means something different:

Jewel Space: You select any jewel you wish from the pile on the castle and place it on your magic carpet.

Genie Space: You select a jewel from the pile to give to another player.

Wish Space: You flip the token in the air. If it says "Oops", you remove a jewel from your magic carpet and put it back in the pile. If it says "Boom Zahramay!", you take a jewel from the pile.

You stay on the left side of the board until all players have one of each jewel on their card. This is where the cooperative part comes in, as players need to look at all the cards to determine which player they give a jewel to (usually the one with the least amount of jewels).

Squiggle gives me a pink jewel

If you have your magic carpet full, you still play while others need jewels. You can give a jewel you get to another player since you can only have one of each on this half of the board.

All 4 jewels acquired, ready to move on!

When all players have one of each jewel, you all move to the magic carpet spot on the second half of the board to continue game play!

On this half of the board, the goal is to fill the jewel spaces on the bottle before all 6 oops spaces are filled. The spaces have slightly different meanings on this half.

Jewel Space: You still collect a jewel from the pile and place it on your card.

Genie Space: You select a jewel from your card to give to the player of your choice.

Wish Space: You flip the token, but if it lands on "oops", you place a jewel from your magic carpet card onto an oops space on the board. If it lands on "Boom Zahramay!", you place a jewel on the matching shape on the genie bottle.

3 jewel spaces are filled on the bottle
You have to encourage your little ones to think about which gems they should be taking from the pile in this half, as you want them to have the gems they need to put in the bottle. If they have to give a gem to another player, you want them to have enough of the needed gems to give to a player that might not have that one so they can use it if they land on the right space.

We did it!

Sometimes you get lucky and get very few "oops" flips. From the winning picture above, you can see we only had two! We aren't always so lucky, however, and sometimes we can't get the jewel spaces filled before the oops spaces.

This game is very colourful, and movement is easy since counting only goes to 3. This makes it easy to maintain the attention of the younger children. It can be frustrating for those who haven't learned how to flip a token or coin yet.

She's ready to play again!

The only thing my kids were unhappy with was not being able to do anything if they landed on the magic carpet space. You can always adopt the rule that they spin again if this happens, though. That way they don't feel like their turn was skipped.

Shimmer and Shine: Genie Friends Forever would make a great gift for birthdays or holidays, and can be found purchased for around $20. Be sure to check out for this game, and many other great games!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent this product for review in exchange for my honest opinion. This did not influence my opinion of the product in any way. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pete the Cat Groovy Button Game (review)

Still looking for some board game ideas? Check out the Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game by Briarpatch (University Games). The game is fairly quick, so if you need a game that takes little time, this is a good choice. Likewise, if your kids prefer to play more than one game in a row, this is a great option to not take up too much time!

Setting the game up is super easy, and it also includes my new favourite feature: an in-board spinner! (Check out my Kids onStage review to read why!) The down side is that you do risk the child(ren) leaning on the board to reach the spinner when they first start playing, and that will knock your pieces over. Once they get used to not pushing or leaning on the board with all their weight, it works quite well!

The buttons all go in a pile to the side of the board, and each player gets a button jar. All the pieces are cardboard (spinner arrow and stand for your game piece aside) and can easily be stored in a single sandwich bag.

To play, you select your game (Pete the Cat character) piece and place it in any of the green circles on the board corners. Movement is clockwise around the board (the number of spaces that your spinner lands on), and youngest player goes first. If you land on a green button, you take the number of buttons shown on that spot from the button pile and put them on your button jar. If you land on a red button, you place that number of buttons from your jar onto Pete the Cat in the center of the board. If you land on a blue space, you can switch your button jar with any other player’s button jar (getting all their buttons). The goal is to have the most buttons when the button pile is gone.

You have the option of going through the center part of the board (towards Pete the Cat) from either direction. If you land directly on Pete the Cat, you get all the buttons that are on him (from people landing on red spaces). This encourages planning ahead since they need to decide if it will be worth going that way due to all the red buttons and how many buttons are sitting on Pete the Cat.

When the button pile is gone, any buttons sitting on Pete the Cat are divided evenly amongst the players. When our first game ended, however, Bobble had only a handful of the 40 buttons, so we just gave all of them to him (he still had the least number of buttons). The person with the most buttons wins!

This game encourages counting skills the most, but it also encourages colour recognition (and having to remember what those colours mean in the game). It also encourages basic strategizing in giving the option of moving towards the center of the board or not.


My kids loved this game right off the bat because: Pete the Cat. The game play, as I mentioned, was pretty decently paced, so it wouldn’t be frustrating if the kids want to play more than once.Since it’s just counting, it’s not really boring for the older people playing like some children’s games are. If you’re looking for a fun, decent-paced game for a younger child, Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game is a good option!

You can find the Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game for around $20. Don't forget to check out to find games for all occasions and all ages!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent this product for review in exchange for my honest opinion. This did not influence my opinion of the product in any way. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Kids on Stage (game review)

I previously mentioned the Super Why ABC Game, by Briarpatch (University Games), and how educational and fun it is. I am pleased to be able to review some more of their games, as they have offered me some for review! First up: Kids on Stage

I'd like to state, in advance, that my camera could not focus on the card and the action at the same time, so I'm sorry for slightly out-of-focus cards... but they are clear enough to see what the person should be doing!

I was excited to try Kids on Stage before I even opened it because the box said there was no reading required. This meant I had a much better chance to play them successfully with the kids since Bobble can sight read a few things, but Squiggle is still working on her alphabet. I also liked that it was for 2 – 6 players. It’s nice for when the kids have some friends over, or for larger families.

The setup is really easy, and you can start playing pretty much immediately after you put your piece on the board and set up the spinner. The spinner, by the way, is attached to the board. I cannot tell you how nice this is. Aside from not having to worry about it getting left out of the box and then stepped on (and broken), or a kid being angry and throwing it (or hoarding it), it’s always there when you want to play. I love the spinner being part of the board!

As far as actual game play, the rules are very easy to understand. You spin, you move that number, and you draw a card with the colour that matches the space you are on. Red cards are action cards, green cards are object cards, and blue cards are animal cards. Some of the cards can be challenging for things the children haven’t been exposed to. One example would be sewing. My kids weren’t sure what to do for that one. Others were difficult for them to not give away because they know many of the American Sign Language (ASL) signs for animals, objects, or actions on the cards.

You guess until you get it right. If they are having trouble guessing what you are acting out, you can make noises to help give it away. Fake snoring made the red “sleeping” card a bit too obvious, though! There is no counting who got however many cards right, you just play until you all get to the end. Quite simple, and takes away the frustration of not winning for the kids.

I honestly wasn’t sure how well Squiggle, having just turned three, would grasp the concept of acting something out without saying what it was. I was pleasantly surprised that she understood quickly, I just reminded her at every turn to “be/do this without saying it”. The only time this didn’t work was when she was sleepy. Then she just threw herself against the couch, giggling, and saying what she should act out. So, sleepy times aside, it worked really well.

Bobble, who is now 5 ½, really loved it. I was actually surprised at how much better Squiggle was at acting the things out, and how quickly she guessed things correctly compared to Bobble. However, Bobble has always been a bit slower on pretend play. I think this will be really good to encourage him to use his imagination, and that’s a great thing.


I liked that the spinner went all the way up to 8, as that could make the game go really quickly (which is sometimes a welcome relief, am I right?!). The one thing I didn’t like was that, should the game be a moderately-paced game, you might go through all the cards for a certain colour and then they would be too easy because the kids remember what did and didn’t work for acting that one out. That also makes it less fun to play twice in a row.

I’d love to see more cards available for this game, or even blank cards that were added with it so you can create your own. I think 10 more cards of each colour could really make a big difference.
I highly recommend this game for anyone looking for a present, or simply for a fun new addition to their game shelf. It encourages creative thinking, requires action, doesn’t require reading (though the word/words are on the card), helps with counting to 8, and colour recognition. 

You can purchase Kids on Stage for around $20, so head on over to or to check out this game (and many others)!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was given the game in exchange for an honest review. This did not sway my opinion of the product at all. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.