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Ungame, Math Smart Card Game, and Escapades!, The Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

Talicor Games

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 time. 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? Why?

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, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

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!