Buy it: Cranium Cariboo
Cranium Cariboo is a great game for young children who are mastering letters, colors, shapes and numbers. My daughter Ally got this game when she was 3. At the time, the game was at just the right skill level for her and continues to be fun now that she’s four.
Cranium Cariboo, for ages 3 to 6, features a plastic box with 15 doors that can be opened with a special key. To start the game, players drop six rubber balls into the box, which are then scattered randomly inside. The point of the game is to open the doors and find which ones have a ball hidden behind them. When the players find all six balls, they use them to open a small treasure chest with a jewel inside. (I don’t know how many times we’ve played this game and opened the chest, but Ally always thinks it’s exciting.)
Each of the doors has a picture, shape, word and color on it. For example, one door has four green circles with apples inside them and the word “Apples” beneath the picture. At the start of each players’ turn, they draw a card, which will have either a letter, number, shape or color on it. So if a player drew either a card with the color green, a circle, the number four or the letter “A” (for apples) on it, they would be able to open the door mentioned above.
The game is designed for 2 to 4 players. It’s easy for preschoolers to play and my daughter has even enjoyed playing it by herself sometimes.
The only drawback of the game is that the balls don’t always get scattered easily inside the box. Sometimes we’ve opened a door to find two balls behind it, or sometimes one of the balls gets stuck at the top of the box (where the balls are dropped in) and we don’t realize it until all the doors are opened and we’re missing a ball. This has been a little frustrating for Ally.
But despite this drawback, I would still recommend the game. It’s a fun, new idea for a “board game” and it’s been a great way to review letters, counting, colors and shapes with Ally.