I'm a massive fan of the supreme genius that is Bananagrams - my Mum bought me my own version a couple of years ago after telling me how brilliant it was. She is a teacher and uses her game in the classroom to keep her students interested in their English lessons.
So I began
stalking following the fab PR team behind the game on twitter and bumped into them at a conference last year, and so began a beautiful friendship.
I followed my Mum's example and began using the game to help Jellybean with his letters and phonics and early steps of learning to read.
He never really grasped the game itself - he is quite little after all, so his spelling is pretty bad, but we have a lot of fun with Bananagrams anyway, and I
force ask everyone who visits to play.
So when I was contacted with the chance to
play with and caress review the recently re-launched favourites 'Appletters' and 'Pairs in pears' I almost had Lesley's arm off!
As you can see from the first pic below the day they arrived was officially the Greatest Post Day Ever - there's a post coming regarding that there DVD - but the focus now is on my new toys!
I didn't waste much time getting the games out and we love the ideas in 'Pairs in pears' for pre-reader activities. The game can be played by adults, but there are activities included to play with young children for whom the full game is a bit difficult.
As we wanted, it's educational, fun, exciting and plain silly at times!
Jellybean LOVED finding the matching letters and matching patterns to copy words, reading them and sounding them out as we went. First of all we had to write his name, of course, and then we were doing simple three letter words - and he spelled 'run' all by himself! That was a proud Mummy moment!
As you can see the whole family has been enjoying the game - at all kinds of levels. From simply learning the alphabet (with added 'learning colours' for aiding concentration) to full on competitive spouse evenings seeing who can
make the most rude words win the game.
Not only is it a great game with a lot of interesting variations it FEELS good. The tiles I mean. It might just be me, but I really do like the feel of the tiles, and I know that the tactile fun times will keep the children interested. Midget Gem also likes stacking them into towers - which is fun and I get him to tell me the letters as he does. Most of them are 'J' at the moment. He'll get there!
The press release for 'Pairs in pears' says;
BUILD WORDS, MATCH PATTERNS - Wordplay fun for all ages & stages
PAIRSinPEARS pairs fun with learning! Packed with eight fun and educational activities, plus two competitive word games, PAIRSinPEARS grows with your family, from the pre-reader stage all the way through adulthood. It’s a game you’ll keep coming back to for years to come.
With developmental activities like Pattern Grouping and Letter Hunt for parents to play with their pre-readers, and wordplay activities like Rhyming and Fill in the Blank for early readers, your kids will learn while having fun.
And it gets even juicier with two fast, fun games that have players racing to build word grids in friendly competition. This is the game that truly has something for everyone!
The game retails at 15.99 and it's worth every penny!
Then - THEN - we moved on to Appletters. It's similar to other well known word games in that you connect your words to those already on the board - BUT you can only connect as a worm rather than as a grid. As you can see from the pictures below this was more challenging than just adding words anywhere - my poor husband was stuck with only one vowel for a while and almost lost - but pulled it back last minute (HUFF) and we had to have another game because I hate losing.
There are, again, variations more suited to younger children which Jellybean very much enjoyed - and again the tactile nature of the tiles and the fun packaging capture the interest of both children.
The press release for Appletters said:
Clear the table, unzip the apple and prepare for a great family evening! Appletters is the addictive game for early readers where players work together to build a “word worm” by adding words to the head or tail.
Unexpected twists and turns can happen, so stay on your toes! If you forget the rules, you might get called a “Rotten Apple!” The first player to use all of his or her tiles wins. If you’re hungry for more fun, you can take a bite out of the three extra challenge games. Parents and educators agree – Appletters helps to develop spelling skills, enhance strategic thinking, encourage cooperation, promote turn-taking, and improve concentration. Make Appletters the core of your game night fun!
And it's TRUE - it really does improve their concentration - even Midget Gem, who isn't quite two, will sit at the table singing a close approximation of the alphabet song and playing with the game.
This game also retails at 15.99 and honestly it's worth it - there are so many ways to play, and it's small enough to take everywhere with you.
Smaller fingers might find the tiles in 'Pairs in pears' easier to play with but I'm just trying to think of things to say might be 'cons' to make this a fair review and not just a fanatical post! I am rather fanatical though!
The only other thing I could say might possibly be improved is that the packaging - though colourful, well made and awesome looking - is a bit fiddly to get the tiles back into. The tiles come in a small plastic bag which I keep because it makes scooping everything away easier - but Midget Gem ripped the bag from 'Appletters' so the tiles go straight into the apple - and it's a bit of a balancing act getting them in and the bag zipped up without dropping any tiles.
That is, literally, the only bad thing I can say.
Now I just need to get my hands on 'Zip it' and 'Fruitominoes' to complete my collection of 'Bananagrams' games! Check out their website for more details on these games and the rest of the range, and pop yourself over to Amazon to buy your own games before THE UNIVERSE RUNS OUT*.
*This is unlikely. But you never know!