bear_850Two new PAL Award winners are favorites with the preschool set. “Bear In Underwear Backpack Adventure Board Game” and “Animal Soup The Mixed-Up Animal Board Game!”   by The Haywire Group are such creative yet simple starter games for preschoolers that get kids talking. Kids were immediately attracted to a game featuring bears in their underwear, but they unknowingly learn to match colors, count out objects and ask questions to share objects taken out of bear’s backpack. Animal Soup has kids landing on spaces to collect picture cards of half an animal hoping to complete their wacky creature or negotiate a trade to finish their picture. I’ve used both games many times with 3 and 4 year-olds, as reinforcement for articulation therapy  or language learning as kids ask questions, “Do you need an acorn?” discuss the construction of their funny animals, and describe pieces they need to progress in the game. Both games are based on books by Todd H. Doodler, so connecting the games to the book would be a language lesson in itself!

Here are my full reviews:

Kids reached for “Bear In Underwear” when I said the name–what fun playing with bears in their underwear! Players travel around the 3-D game board, through the forest and over the bridge, landing on colored spaces directing them to collect their animal’s favorite food, forest item and underwear. Land on spaces  numbered from 1-3, and reach into the red box backpack to pick out that number of items that might match your animal card. I needed a cookie, flower and pink underwear for my bear, while my little friend chose what he called the monster who needed a hamburger, acorn and blue polka dot underwear. It you don’t get a match you can offer it to another player. Additional stops on the game board, ask kids to get up and act like their favorite animal, or act out eating their favorite food.  Lots of language transpires as kids ask questions, offering objects they don’t need to others, “I don’t need this, Do you need this?” compare animal cards, “I have one and you need one,” describe what they need, “Look, I got purple underwear but it’s a little bit bigger than that.” and guess what animals and foods players are acting out.

Just setting up this game got lots of giggles going as kids looked at the pictured math showing the sum of a tiger plus a rhinoceros equals, of course, a “tigeroceros!”  Preschoolers requested I read through each zany combination of animals before starting the game. Players make their way around the forest game board, which cleverly uses the box, as they land on different animals, collecting the corresponding picture card. Kids  continually check the large reference chart of combined animals to see what they need to complete their “croctopus,” “birdle” or “squale”–(crocodile+octopus, bird+turtle, or squirrel+whale). Thankfully they have a “trade” option to land on so they can negotiate with a peer for the animal to complete their creature. Flip the two matching cards over, and you are rewarded with a hilarious animal soup combination. Two completed mixed-up animals wins the game.  Kids love to practice saying the goofy names of their new animals, use language to negotiate a trade, and talk about where their needed cards are coming on the board. One little friend laughed, “It’s super silly,” as he asked to play again!

The above opinions are solely those of the author. The games were provided for review by The Haywire Group.