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Around the World: Getting the Main Idea Review by Kris Price

W5527 State Road 106
P.O. Box 800
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800

One of the main skills tested on standardized tests is reading comprehension. This board game was created to help children find the main idea in a paragraph. I received the Blue Level game for review; this means it's for children with a reading level of 3.5-5.0. On the website, this is all you will find describing the game: "Take a trip around the world! Players read high-interest stories and choose the main idea from three choices. 110 story cards and answer key. 2-6 students." My first impression, based on the title of the game, was that the "high-interest stories" were going to be geography-related. That is not the case, so I think the title of this game is a bit misleading. However, the story cards are still interesting with short paragraphs about science, history, inventions, animals, sports, and some geography (but not much!).

The game can be played in three ways. The first way to play the game is to have the parent read the story cards aloud and the child then chooses, from the multiple choice list, the statement that is the main idea of the paragraph. The second way to play this game is with a second, smaller set of 48 story cards. Half of the cards have a short paragraph, while the other half contains the main idea sentence and a picture. The idea is to match up the sets. These cards would probably be better for the children on the lower end of the reading level as the pictures will probably help them find the correct answer. However, the problem with this is that the child soon learns to just look at the pictures and isn't reading the main idea sentences!

The third way to play the game involves the game board. The object of the game is to be the first player to travel around the world from airport to home. There are three types of spaces that the player can land on--blank spaces, city or country spaces, and Direction spaces. There is a problem with this as the player can read a story card ONLY when he lands on the Direction spaces! I believe that I understand the reasoning for this as there are only 110 story cards, and if the players choose a card on every move and there are six players, then ALL of the cards would be read rather quickly. However, the game can become quite boring rather quickly if the child over and over again lands only on a blank or country space. My two children and I ended up adapting the game so that we were choosing a story card on every turn. It just made it more enjoyable.

I think the initial concept of this game-helping a child with reading comprehension by finding the story's main idea-is a good one. I've never seen a board game like this one. However, I believe some more thought needs to be put into the game, as there is room for improvement. One of my ideas is to have two sets of cards. In addition to the Direction cards, there would be Geography fact cards for when a player lands on a city or country space. These cards wouldn't have any directions but would just give some general information about the various spaces already on the board. This would tie into the title of the game and the "trip around the world" theme a bit better. When a child lands on a blank space, he still wouldn't do anything. My fourth-grade child enjoyed the game as is for the most part. He said that the questions were easy, but I expected this from him as he is already reading above his grade level. If I had paid $21.95 for this game, I would have been very disappointed with what I got, as there really isn't too much to it. The game cards could be sold as a hand-held card game for less than half the cost and still achieve the same results. I hope that Edupress will take a second look at this game and make some changes to make it a bit more exciting and worth the sticker price.

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2006