The Ungame, Math Smart Card Game, and Escapades!
Big games. Little games. Fast games. Slow games. Old games. New games. You name it; Talicor has it! I looked at three games from Talicor and loved all three. The company started with the Ungame in 1971. You can read the touching story of how this game was created on the Talicor website, or listen to the story on the CD that is included with the game. Briefly, the creator, Rhea Zakich, lost her voice for several months and was frustrated by how hard it was to really communicate with her family. She sat down one night and wrote question after question on slips of paper - things she wanted to ask them and things she wished they would ask her. The next day, the family played the game and everyone opened up as they hadn't in a long ime. The game was so wonderful for her family that other families wanted a copy. Long story short, and 32 years later, the Ungame is a classic that launched the Talicor company, leading to tremendous success for both.
Since we are on the topic, let me start with the Ungame ($17.95 for the board game or $8.95 for the pocket game, and available in several versions including a Christian version, couple version, and family version). I was very familiar with this terrific game from my work in the mental health field. Okay, before you decide it's a psychobabble game just because it is meant to help people open up and talk to each other, let me tell you how it works. The board has spaces with instruction such as "If you feel 'stressed out,' go to sinking ship." Then there are Ungame spaces where you draw a card and answer the question. The first deck of cards has mild questions such as:
1 What are two things you look forward to doing? Why?
2 What subject would you like to speak about to a large audience?
3 What is something you have never done that you would like to try?
4 What is something you feel too young to do? Why?
Then the second deck goes beyond the warm-up to the tough questions:
1 What is something you want people to remember about you?
2 How do you behave when you feel angry?
3 Name two people who have encouraged you sometime in your life.
4 Share a "turning point" in your life.
The other players are not allowed to talk during your turn, which helps the player not worry so much about what others will say. If you land on a Comment space, then you can ask a question of another player or make a comment about anything you like. I've always thought that a large part of why counseling is so helpful is that few people really have the opportunity to be listened to without interruption. Just being able to say what is so troubling can be enormously cathartic. How often do we just sit and listen to our spouse and kids without interrupting, or correcting, etc.? That is what makes the Ungame such a mainstay in the mental health field, in church groups, and all sorts of other places. If you want to see the power of this process, try asking a couple of these questions at dinner tonight without interrupting or making any comment until each person is through talking. Then consider buying this non-competitive game and using it on those tough homeschooling days when you feel like you're just not connecting with your kids, or play it with your spouse when you haven't had enough time together, or with your church group to really get to know each other. It's not all "touchy-feely" - it's about having an opportunity to really talk about each of your hopes, dreams, passions, fears, etc., and really be listened to by those you care about. You can also write your own questions on the included blank cards. My family had a great time playing and learning more about each other - things that don't come up in everyday discussions even with two psychologists in the family!
All right, now how about some serious math fun? The Math Smart Card Game consists of 90 cards with an equation on one side, and an answer to a different equation on the other side. The rules are like Dominoes, only you match the equation with the answer. It comes in a version for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division ($6.95 each). You can "stack the deck" to work on certain skills, such as division by 9s, or review all of the equations. There is also a great game idea, which my son loved. One player, or more working together, makes a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces by fitting all of the cards together where they match up correctly, like one big Domino board. This is a nice, inexpensive card game that lets you practice math without hearing moans and groans!
Finally, I looked at Escapades! ($32.95) which has "Over 300 indoor and outdoor games." This isn't a game in the traditional sense; it is a whole set of cards with ideas for over 300 different games. The games are broken into 11 categories, such as Relays and Tags, Sound and Movement, Tradition with a Twist, Theatrics, Partner Games, and Mysteries, Puzzles, and Quiet Games. Each category is further broken down into activity levels of low active, semi active, or high active. Each card has directions on the front and pictures or diagrams on the back for clarification. I can think of lots of uses for this great idea. You could use it with your kids when the natives are getting just a tad restless! Pull out a great backyard game with lots of activity when everyone has a case of the wiggles. Or on a rainy day, solve a quiet mystery together. Or try some theatrical activities when everyone is feeling creative. How about using these ideas for family nights, or when you have guests over, or for a church group, etc. Anytime you have a couple of people gathered, you could find a game that is appropriate, or one that you can quickly adapt for the occasion.
-- Product Review by: Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, TOS Magazine
Math games are a homeschool mom's secret weapon. This one is especially fun. Available for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, Math Smart is a card came that "plays like dominos and teaches like a tutor." There are 90 cards per box, and each has a math problem on one half and a circled answer to another math problem on the other half. The game is played by matching the correct answer half to the appropriate problem half - just like dominos. The result? A table full of cards and an effortless drill session! Math Smart games by Talicor are available at your local retailer.
-- Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, TOS Magazine
I recently heard that the average amount of conversation between a parent and a child is 15 minutes per day. Now, I hope this is not true of most homeschool families! But I do know that when our family gets together with other families, the children usually run off to play while the grownups hang out and chat. We often leave friends houses feeling like we never connected with the children - theirs and ours. Well, how about a little family game time instead of everyone going his or her own way? And what better game than one that can be played by all ages together? And one that gets everyone talking about his or her thoughts, fears, dreams, and embarrassing moments! I received the Christian version of The Ungame for review, and I love it! It comes with a game board, three decks of cards, six tokens, and a die. Players begin by setting a time limit (45 minutes to one hour is suggested). Players must agree not to talk when it is not their turn (this is tougher than it sounds!). Questions and comments can be directed at a player only if you land on a comment space, so you should take notes as you listen to other players' answers. Deck One has lighthearted questions, such as "Talk about your favorite holiday and why you like it." Deck Two has deeper questions, such as "How do you respond when someone criticizes you? How do you feel?" And Deck Three has questions specifically for Christians, such as "How does your faith in God show in your actions?" There is no winner to this game, just a time of getting to know one another in a fun way.
The creator of The Ungame, Rhea Zakich, has quite a story to tell about how this game came to be, and she tells her story on an accompanying 80-minute CD. She also explains the philosophy of the game and the different versions (Christian, teens, children, and couples). Check out www.talicor.com and see their whole selection of family games that are sure to make your family time more fun, educational, and meaningful.
-- Product Review by: Heather Jackowitz, Staff Writer, TOS Magazine
Geography is best learned, in my humble opinion, through practical application. That is why I show my children on a globe where the Nile River is when we read The Golden Goblet, for example. But geography games are another great way to put geography into practice. I reviewed two such games, both related to United States geography: GeoDerby*USA and Snapshots across America. My children have played both these games almost daily since we got them! They even play them alone if no one is available to play with them (do your children ever do that? Mine take two tokens and play against themselves)!
GeoDerby*USA comes with a 14" by 19" laminated map of the U.S., a horse racetrack game board, 70 color-coded question cards, four horse with jockey tokens, a one-minute timer, and an eight-sided die. Players try to be the first horse and rider around the game board by answering geography questions using the map, if needed. Here are some sample questions: Name the state on Arizona's north border. The Salton Sea is in which state? Omaha, Nebraska is on what river? Which state is a large peninsula? Cards are color-coded to the state in which the answer can be found, with five colors used on the map. Blue cards are scrambler questions, not color-coded. Questions marked with a "T" are "tickler" questions, which cannot be answered using the map. For example, Aspen Ski Resort is in what state? Or, what city in Missouri is known as "The Gateway to the West?" Suggestions are given as to how to accommodate age variations, such as not asking younger children "tickler" questions. Or, you may decide to let younger children move extra spaces for correct answers. You and your children are sure to learn a lot about the geography of our great country and have lots of fun in the process.
Snapshots across America approaches United States geography from a different perspective by focusing on tourist attractions. The object of the game is to be the first player to travel to seven different tourist attractions across the U.S. The game contains a game board map of the U.S., six car tokens, and 110 cards. There are four different types of cards: tourist attraction cards, transportation cards, bad weather cards, and airport closed cards. The cards are sturdy, glossy cardstock with actual photographs of each tourist attraction and a little description. There is also a small map in the corner of each tourist attraction card highlighting where it is located. Children must decide how to get from State A to State B, either by driving one space per turn or using one of their transportation cards (one-way train fare, or round-trip airfare, for example). Other players can try to block a player by playing a "bad weather" card or "airport closed" card. The first player to successfully reach seven tourist attractions (from his cards) and play those cards is the winner. My five-year-old had a hard time accepting that he flew one-way to his tourist attraction only to have hisolder brother "close the airport" on him, so now we only use tourist attraction cards and transportation cards when we play with him. But my eight and 10-year-olds like to try to block each other, so they play more competitively. It's up to you how to play it with your family.
These two games are great fun for our whole family, and none of my children even realizes how much he is learning! And if fun and games make my children happy homeschoolers, then I am a happy homeschool mommy! Be sure to visit www.talicor.com and see their wonderful selection of educational games for the whole family.
TOS Publishers' Note: Talicor Games are incredible! Our children especially love CHARGE IT! as well as their various dice games. We have seen over 20 games and are pleased to wholeheartedly recommend this exceptional company. SUPERB for homeschool families everywhere!