It’s summer in Texas which basically means if you are not splashing around in a swimming pool that you are keeping cool indoors. And engaging two kids under four inside for hours is quite a challenge, to say the least.
While walking around our new neighborhood in Houston we stumbled upon what could be the best toy store ever, Fundamentally Toys, and were drawn to a display table near their front windows full of “collaborative games” made by Peaceable Kingdom. The idea of a collaborative game is that everyone works together towards a common goal and there’s no ‘I win/You win’. The company is (not surprisingly) based in Berkeley, and I felt instant affection for them. (It’s only been a few weeks since we woke up our last morning in Berkeley but we’re all missing a little NorCal spirit).
We picked up two board games based on their covers alone: Hoot Owl Hoot and Feed the Woozle. What sweet games! The goal of Hoot Owl Hoot is to get all the owls back in the nest before the sun comes up. It’s a very simple and easy game to play: each player draws a card that has either a color space to move an owl to CandyLand style, or a sun card, which moves the sun up one space. Instead of each player having their own owl, you can choose to move any owl on your turn, so you may choose to move the owl that is the furthest from the nest. The object of Feed the Woozle, otherwise know in our house as The Monster Game, is to “feed the woozle” gross snacks like Sugar-Coated Sardines or Spider-Egg Pudding. Each player takes turn rolling the di, adding that number of gross snacks to the spoon, then feeding the stand-up cardboard monster’s mouth with the spoon. The goal is to not drop any of the snacks on the way. If your children are older or more skilled you can add another element of spinning a wheel of six physical movements they do prior to feeding the Woozle, such as ‘walk backwords’ or ‘bunny hop’. And in a fun coincidence, we just received Peaceable Kingdom’s Go Fish! game through our BabbaCo monthly project box (the theme this month’s BabbaBox is Deep Sea). We’ll be taking that with us on our trip to Chicago this summer.
The board games that we bought are recommended for ages 3 – 6 for Feed the Woozle and 4+ for Hoot Owl Hoot, but Graham has been thrilled to play with us and he just turned two. In fact, Hoot Owl Hoot is great for color recognition and counting, and Feed the Woozle is good for fine motor skills like balance and precision. What I’ve been doing is giving Graham a special job to do, like be in charge of moving the sun or rolling the di. That way he’s engaged with us but not messing up the board for Mr. Particular Bennett. Both my kids just love laughing at the grossness of the snacks. Moldy Macaroni? Ahhhhhahahahahahaha! Such boys!
At the end of the game, instead of one kiddo walking away as the winner, they all have a great sense of accomplishment. I personally enjoy a rousing competitive game; in fact, my family grew up playing Trivial Pursuit in the pre-Google 80s and almost every family gathering would end in a very loud, dramatic, Italian-style fued. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition, but there’s plenty of time for that in the future. Right now, it’s just nice having fun together. Everyone is building skills and confidence, and there is such a warm loving feel in the air while we are playing. It’s a perfect way to spend time as a family on a hot lazy afternoon or after dinner.
Pick up a game and let me know what you think! xo