Friday, January 18, 2008

Review: Cranium Bloom Games

The great people over at Mom Central asked if I would review a couple games Cranium released this month, and I jumped at the chance! My boys love the Cranium games we own, and I was interested to see what new twists they had for the preschool market.

I received 2 games -- Let's Play Count & Cook and Let's Go to the Zoo Seek & Find Puzzle. They're both rated for ages 3+, and while I thought they might be a bit simple for my boys (ages 5 & 7), I planned to share them with friends who had preschoolers as well.

Before I go into detail, I want to share that everyone loved the games! I know that I will purchase these in the future to give as gifts to the preschool crowd!

One of my favorite things about the game and puzzle I received is that they encourage cooperative play. Everyone works together towards a common goal, and while it may be exciting to be the first one to finish -- it's not the only point of the game.

Count & Cook has adorable little chefs as playing pieces. The game includes a cookbook, and players move around the board gathering ingredients for different recipes. Everyone is working together to create one recipe and the player who finds the final ingredient can pull a tab and see a "special" window. The game is fast moving, and encourages simple counting around the board. My boys thought it was cute and it tied in well with a recent viewing of Ratatouille.

It was a bit simple for them, but I can see how it would be a great game for a preschooler. I also shared the game with a 4 year old, and she had a great time playing it. Her mom said she went home and talked about it for a couple days! (guess who will get my game the next time we see them?!)

My boys spent much more time with the Seek & Find Zoo puzzle. The puzzle has 24 pieces, which is a nice number for beginning puzzlers. My boys had it together in no time, and then began the real fun. The game comes with 30 cards and has players search for the items on the cards. For example, they might search for items starting with "C", or 3 tigers. When something is found, they use the included pen to circle it on the puzzle. I worried that the pen wouldn't come off easily, but the boys had no trouble using a dry tissue to wipe off their circles.

When a friend with a 2 1/2 year old stopped by recently, we pulled out the puzzle again. My boys had a great time helping him find the different items on the puzzle after they put it together, and did most of the circling. The cooperation in this game allows kids of varying ages to play it together successfully.

I liked that the games were simple, yet fun. I think that kids would learn while playing, but the most important thing would be that they were playing! As a parent, I would be willing to play the games and wouldn't dread being asked to get them out. In both games, pamphlets were included with more ways to play the games and activities to do in conjunction with the games. I think the games are a great addition to the preschool market and look forward to getting more when L is a little older.

Cranium has released their Bloom line exclusively in Target stores.

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