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 Areyougame.com 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.