I, like most parents of young children, am intimately familiar with the “The world of Eric Carle” and the imaginative stories and colorful illustrations represented therein. My kids are too, so when they saw a familiar green caterpillar on the box of our second board game up for review this month our kitchen erupted into complete pandemonium. Some serious board gaming was afoot…
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek ABC Game.
Just like the Kids on Stage game we reviewed last week, this game is constructed of very high-quality materials. The board itself and the pieces are all made of very nice, heavy card cardboard. The images on them are printed clearly and sealed with a glossy finish. The plastic spinner was admittedly a little “sticky” at first but loosened as we played and was spinning smoothly by the time we were done playing the first round (so don’t lose faith if yours grinds to a halt at first because it just needs to be broken in). I was very pleased with the quality of the cards that came with this game too, and not just because of the materials used. The familiar Eric Carle illustrations are fun and imaginative.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek Game is intended for up to four players and puts a new twist on the traditional “spin and move” board game format. Firstly, two decks of cards must be shuffled and laid out on the table (face-up). The cards feature the letters of the alphabet in both uppercase and lowercase forms, accompanied by an image of an animal or object that starts with that letter and the spelled-out name of the item in the illustration. Aside from the usual numbers (in this case “1” through “4”), the spinner also features a sub-category of “BIG” and “little”. On their turn, each player gets to choose between moving their piece the specified number of spaces that the spinner landed on or to the next [not already-taken] BIG (uppercase) or little (lowercase) letter on the game board’s path. Regardless, they must then find the card that coordinates with the letter they land on. If they choose correctly, they keep the card. If they pick the wrong card (and those BIG and little letters can get confusing with the younger crowd) and they get nothing until their next turn. The goal is to reach the finish line.
Game play and overall thoughts:
First of all, be prepared for the fact that playing this game takes A LOT of space. There’s one card per letter and a deck for both uppercase and lowercase letters. With 26 letters in the alphabet, that’s 52 cards! And they all need to be laid out face-up next to a standard size game board. We used a kitchen table that seats six people and The Very Hungry Caterpillar consumed half the table (pun intended)!
Once the game was setup, I quickly discovered that my 3-year-old wasn’t as committed to the game as my other two children. I played with my three oldest: Evie (3), JD (5) and Charlie (7). Evie is just learning to identify letters in general so although she can sing the alphabet song, she hasn’t yet grasped the concept of “big” and “little” letters. She loved spinning on her turn but relied heavily on her brothers to help her find the correct card each time… which she then sat stacking and admiring the pictures on while singing to herself as she completely ignored the rest of us taking our turns. Her brothers, on the other hand, were OBSESSED with the game and very competitive about their turns. I noticed they regarded the illustrations on the cards as if they were comparable to Pokemon cards, often getting excited when they “captured” a “big letter” card because “My BIG unicorn defeats your little unicorn!” [The proper response to this, by the way, is “Yeah, but my little lion defeats your big unicorn!”].
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (like many games that are targeted at young children) began to feel repetitive for the adult involved… a.k.a. me! But unlike most games, it was very easy for the kids to play by themselves. The boys did several more rounds completely unsupervised while I washed dishes and I am happy to report that there was no arguing at all. They even willingly played a round with their little sister before she lost interest and walked away. Because of the lack of arguing and the unusual level of cooperation it inspires, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek ABC Game holds the prestigious title of “The only board game the kids are allowed to play without an adult because they don’t try to kill each other while playing it”. That’s a huge deal in a house with a massive collection of games. Needless to say, I highly recommend anything that teaches my children to work together as a team. A+
Disclaimer: This item was provided to me for free in order to facilitate this review. I pride myself on being an honest person though, so my opinion was not influenced in any way. I am also in no way obligated (or compensated) to share it here. I test hundreds of products and only a fraction of them are shared on my blog. That’s because only a fraction of them are extraordinary… in my opinion, anyway!