My family likes board and card games. Both the big kids are fiends for Pictionary, Monopoly and Scrabble, and I couldn't count the number of games of poker, Uno, Guess Who, memory and snap I've played over the past 5 years. We find that games are a great way to bring the four of us together when the toddler is asleep, be it napping or for the night, in a way that's engaging and fun for everyone.
I must admit, though, that games have tended to be something we relegate to weekends or school holiday evenings. There is rarely (actually, never) time to play a full game of Pictionary or Monopoly on a school night, and card games just don't seem to cut the mustard with the kids in terms of family time anymore. When they big girls ask to play something on a school night, they ask to play something "about words or numbers" - you'd think they'd be sick of it by then, but that's not how learning works, I've discovered; it's the more you do, the more you want, or at least for my girls.
So when I was given the chance to review a word game that promised that a round could be played in 20 minutes, I was keen, and so were the kids. Which is how we discovered Take 2.
The basic idea of Take 2 is extremely simple -
1. You have a box full of letter tiles.
2. You spread them out face down.
3. Everyone takes 8 tiles.
4. You make words, crossword-fashion, until you have used all your tiles, then yell out "Take 2!' and everyone has to pick up two more.
5. If you are not the person to call out Take 2, the face value of the letters you haven't used is tallied and written as your score.
6. You can at any time dismantle any or all of your crossword and start again to use new letters you've picked up.
7. The person with the LOWEST score when all the tiles are used, or when you decide to stop playing, is the winner.
If it strikes you that this is like a faster, simultaneous rather than turn-based, and less rules-y version of A Certain Well Known Mattel Board Game Involving Words, you'd be right, but we have found that it's much easier for kids to play than even the junior version of That Game. The lack of complicating factors that a board provides, and the absence of the severe frustration that ensues when the player before you STEALS YOUR SPOT, makes this a much happier playing experience for the younger ones.
In terms of how it plays for different ages, the husband and I enjoy it, but need to be careful to moderate our speed somewhat; when we're competing with each other, we go super-quick and that can really be unfair to the kids, who, at 8.5 and almost 7, have great vocabularies but not quite as many fancy words as we do.
The 8.5 year old loves this game passionately; she doesn't need help, usually, although I give a nudge sometimes if she gets stuck with a Q and a Z. She also likes taking a turn at scoring, which is all about the maths as well as the language :-)
The almost 7 year old likes it too, but we find a full game a little too fatiguing for her; she loses interest and becomes frustrated if she can't see words in her letters. When we play on school nights, we often play until the first person hits 100 and is the loser (usually about 2/3 of the tiles are used by then). She copes a lot better with that. She is always very proud of herself when she makes a complex word and she's making more of them as time goes on; it's lovely to see her getting so much fun out of language.
And like any good game, there's the way it's intended to be played, and then there's all the other ways to play with it ...
- my big kids worked together to construct a giant crossword of all the tiles, working co-operatively rather than competitively
- my toddler lined up all the letters in rows of the same letter, employing her early pre-reading skills to good effect
- I tipped out the tiles on the table and played with them in a stream of consciousness mode, which provoked (or perhaps unlocked) two poems
The only fault I'd find with this game is actually the packaging. We find the tiles very fiddly to get back into the plastic box, to the point where I'm making a cloth bag for them and we'll probably leave the box altogether. The rows are too tight and the tiles slip around, and it's an exercise in frustration getting them to sit right.
That's a minor quibble though; overall this game is excellent fun, it's suitable for all literate ages, and it's a great way to have some family time even on a school night.
Take 2 retails for $30 and is available for purchase online at www.take2thegame.com.au
Now for the fun part ...
If you would like to win a copy of Take 2 for your family, just leave a comment below telling me what's your favourite family game and why. I'll refer the answers to an independent person for assessment, they'll choose the most interesting answer, and you'll get yourself a copy of the game!
Terms & conditions
1. Competition is open from 1pm AEST on Thursday 9th February until 5pm AEST on Friday 17th February.
2. Competition is open to Australian residents only.
3. The most interesting and innovative answer will be selected by an independent third party as the winner. Their decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
4. The winner will be announced on the blog on Saturday 18th February and then has 3 days to contact me at kathypllrd248 AT gmail.com with a postal address. If you do not contact me within the specified timeframe, a new winner will be selected.
I look forward to hearing about your family gaming habits :-)
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the game Take 2 by Communicado PR for review purposes. No payment was offered or accepted for this post, and all opinions expressed are my own.