We're beginning another cruise with the Homeschool Crew and the first product of the year----is a game! This certainly eased the way for my Schnickelfritz, who wasn't quite ready to delve into schoolwork yet. Teachers have known for a long time that students need to review facts in order to retain information. They also know that flash cards, listening to lectures, and filling in worksheets lead to boredom and a bored student isn't going to retain anything. So why not find a game that cover the facts in a fun way and the kids don't even know they're learning. We received Nature Nuts by Gridley Games to review and I think it's going to tie in well with our science lessons on land animals . The game has received the Dr. Toy award--something that I've come to respect when looking for prospective toys and games for our family.
The packaging of Nature Nuts describes it as an expansion set for Griddly's original game Wise Alec or as a travel game. You can easily add these cards to the Wise Alec board game since the card colors match up, but it can also be played alone. Instead of moving pieces around a colored board you play for points. Each card contains a 3-point and a 7-point question with difficulty reflecting the point value. Before the game begins you determine how many points are necessary to win. This makes the game easily adaptable for players of differing ages or science education. An adult might have to reach 100 points while a first grader might only need 30. It is even possible to earn points without answering questions--the purple Wise Alec cards award points for physical challenges (acting like a monkey for example). There are 50 cards for each category and two questions per card.
A player's turn begins with the roll of a colored die. The face color will match one of the question categories-yellow for earth, red for animals, green for plants, purple for Wise Alec. A roll of blue allows you to pick any category. An orange roll allows one of your opponents to pick for you. They may pick a difficult subject for you but you can earn double the points. Then you choose the hard or easy question on the card.
I have to say that Fritz and I found the game frustrating at first. He hasn't had much exposure to botany or earth science yet. I felt like I was on the TV game show "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader. " Somewhere in my past I learned that the wiggly tail on a paramecium was called a flagella but that fact had been transferred from the readily available data in my brain to the seldom if ever needed archives. Other questions didn't seem so much science based as trivia, like what do you call a group of kangaroos or what do you call a baby animal X?
Since the game seemed so flexible about rules and game play we made up our own. We didn't roll the die at all. We presorted the cards and I pulled out the ones I thought he should know. If he missed the question he could use a Wise Alec card as a second chance to earn some points. As we progress through our science curriculum this year I may even add some questions based on our text.
I'm not sure what Griddly Games had in mind when describing Nature Nuts as a travel game. It's true that your not using the Wise Alec board and the packaging is small enough to fit in a suitcase. To my mind, a travel game is one you can play in the car or on a plane without losing little game pieces. It would be a hassle to lift the entire set of cards from their holder in the box each time you needed to place a used card on the bottom of the deck. Some of the Wise Alec challenges (seeing who can jump the farthest or doing push-ups) can't be done in the car or plane, at least not without drawing the air marshall's attention.
I think we will continue to play this game. With Fritz's competitive nature, he is likely to try and remember the answers for future games even if we never get to the specific subject in our science books. You can read what others on the Homeschool Crew think about Nature Nuts and another expansion set, Civilize This by clicking here.
Product: Nature Nuts
Provider: Griddly Games
Retail Price: $14.99
Where to buy: Check their website for online retailers and stores in your state
Age: 8 and up
Other items needed: A paper and pencil to keep score
Other products by Griddly Games: The original Wise Alec game ($24.99) and several expansion packs.