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Cooperative Board Games: Count Your Chickens! Review by Melissa Cummings

Peaceable Kingdom
950 Gilman Street, Suite 200
Berkeley, CA 94710

As a mother, I love seeing the world anew through my child's eyes. I remember things about my childhood to a certain extent, but reliving it again through my preschooler brings back memories that I didn't even know I had forgotten! Things like playing games with my grandma and brother. I had forgotten how much fun I had learning about board games, following the rules, and--of course--winning. Upon receiving Count Your Chickens! my preschooler lit up and was excited to learn how to play, follow the rules, take turns, and give me a high-five when we won together.

Count Your Chickens! is my 3-year-old's first encounter with a board game, and he is hooked. The whimsical farmyard scenes in bright, cheery colors were immediately enticing, and the smooth--even soft--game board and playing pieces are comfortable to handle and play with. The directions are easy to follow, and since they are located right on the underside of the sturdy game box lid, we will never lose them! A very handy thing, indeed. The only thing I needed to add to the game box was a little bag to hold the game pieces, as the paper envelope they came in got ripped in the excitement of setting up the game one time, and I don't want to risk losing any of the game pieces.

Peaceable Kingdom is comprised of people who genuinely love kids--parents, godparents, caretakers, game players. They encourage community building, giving back, and working together. That sounds a lot like their cooperative games! The object of a cooperative game is to encourage teamwork and cooperation instead of focusing on competition. The players work together against a common obstacle instead of against one another. Especially for young game players, this can be a great introduction to teamwork and working together toward a common goal. Skills that Count Your Chickens! can help instill in young children include following directions, obeying game rules, taking turns, matching, basic counting, one-to-one counting correspondence, directionality, subtraction of one, the reward of winning, and the idea that losing is okay too, and we can always try again.

This game requires basically no setup--just a little scattering of the Baby Chicks game pieces--and the players can immediately dive in. Game play involves spinning the sinner, moving Mother Hen around the farm path on the game board, counting the spaces she crosses, collecting the appropriate number of Baby Chicks and placing them in the Chicken Coop, and seeing if all the Baby Chicks are safely home before Mother Hen gets there (and if not, we try again). Very simple, very sweet, very innocent, very fun.

Available for only $14.99, this is a well-made, durable, fun, educational game. And for those particularly concerned with planet health and sustainable products, Peaceable Kingdom uses recycled plastic that is phthalate- and BPA-free, FSC papers, and soy-based inks for this game. Even the game itself, including all the various parts, can apparently be recycled (but who would want to recycle such a fun game?). While the concept of cooperative games automatically draws me towards the youngest of children, I am certain that older siblings, developmentally challenged children of all ages, and any caretakers (parents, grandparents, teachers, babysitters) would enjoy this game together. Count Your Chickens! is very adaptable to age and development, and Peaceable Kingdom suggests that there be no more than four players.

The joy the game brings to our family time (and the introduction of Family Game Night it is offering us) makes Count Your Chickens! a winner in our home, not to mention the educational skills it encourages with a generous dose of fun. This homeschooling mom and her preschooler each give this game two thumbs up.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC , June 2011