Candygrams is a fun, colorful crossword game for the whole family, ages 7 and up. My toy tester friend and I got a bit addicted to it as we kept trying to outwit one another with the best words placed on our individual color-coded crosswords. Each player starts out with 25 letter tiles (candies), colored in pink, yellow or blue in their “shoppe.” 10 tiles are face down in the middle of play, called “the candy jar.” Each player forms a “base word” using all three colors of tiles, to which players add tiles to form a word each round. Now roll the dice to see what color tiles you will use in your new word. Sounds easy but as play progresses and your stash of yellow, blue or pink tiles runs low or out, you have to be even more clever with your word making.Thankfully there is provision for making a trade with the candy jar so you can get rid of those “Y” and “Q” tiles and hope for a great vowel or depleted color!  The first player to use all his tiles wins the game. After playing several rounds of standard play we tried out the express version which was fast and furious. After each roll of the dice, players race to connect one word, matching the color combo rolled. When a player calls out his word, the other players have to disconnect their incomplete words as a new round begins. Full disclosure: there was a lot of good-spirited yelling, “Stop!” and “Take those tiles away,” as well as laughter as the game sped along. I’ll give a little secret…with the express version, just do 2 and 3 letter words to finish first and you can more easily win. I think this game would be great with early readers, maybe even pairing with an adult or making up words that don’t have to touch. It’s a fun way to build vocabulary and literacy skills with a sweet little twist.

Available at Candygrams