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uKloo Early Reader Treasure Hunt Game Review by Karen Waide

Doreen Dotto
uKloo Kids Inc.
(416) 407-2562
10 Glenmount Park Road
Toronto, ON M4E2M9
http://www.ukloo.com

We spent some time this summer practicing reading skills with a fun scavenger hunt type game called uKloo Early Reader Treasure Hunt Game. This game comes with 54 clue cards that children are to find and read, in order to find the hidden surprise. In addition to the 54 clue cards, there are 12 blank “Surprise” cards where the parent can write in the prize, such as a favorite treat or privilege, plus there are 12 blank “Write Your Own Clue” cards. Also included is a “Picture Helper” reference poster. Prizes are not included and will have to be provided by the parent.

uKloo is designed with beginning readers in mind, ages 4 and up. This was perfect for our household, as I have one child who is four and is just learning to read. Plus, my six year old daughter is also at the beginning stages of reading, though a bit more advanced than her brother. I thought this would be a fun way to work on those reading skills, and I was right.

As I mentioned, uKloo Early Reader Treasure Hunt Game comes with 54 clue cards. These are then broken into three color-coded levels: Level 1 – Yellow, Level 2 – Blue, and Level 3 – Pink. All of the levels have simple sentences for children to read, so they can go and find the next clue.

The sentences in Level 1 are all only four words long, and they all start with the word, “Look.” The child may have to look in, on, under, or beside. The third word in the sentence is either “the” or “your.” The final word is the place the child has to look. Some of the words are simple words that can be sounded out, while others will probably require a bit of help. They may have to look in a hat or a sock, but they may also have to look under a couch or on a chair.

Level 2 uses trickier words and 4-6 word sentences. Instead of being instructed to “look,” children are told to either “check” or “find it.” Additionally, the words for the objects are longer, adding a bit more of a challenge.

Level 3 introduces a new word, “search,” and also uses the words “find it” again. These sentences are a lot more detailed. Children are given much more specific spots to look for the clues, and will have to be able to read the harder words.

So, children will go from having to read this type of sentence, “Look on your bed,” to reading, “Check under your pillow,” and finally, “Search on the bed under your dad's pillow.”

I love the ability to write our own clues as, obviously, all families have different furniture and belongings. After playing several times with only the pre-written cards, I decided it was time to try to write my own clues. I had the children “Look somewhere on the piano,” and “Look under the love seat.” I think they enjoyed having different cards to read.

Some parents may prefer to treat their child(ren) with some candy, gum, stickers, or a small toy. These surprises would be placed where the last clue leads the child. If you don't have the money to go out and buy small prizes, the “Surprise” cards are great. As the parent, you know what your children like and what they would consider a fun prize. The other day, my children were so excited when they discovered they were getting an extra movie night (as that was what I had written on one of the blank Surprise cards). I have also treated the children to a Sleepover Night in the Living Room. Some other prizes I am planning include: Let's Go to the Park, Extra Computer Time, and Let's Go Out for Dinner.

There were some cards we couldn't use. One of the cards tells the child to “Check behind the cereal box.” That would be a little tricky for us, as we store our cereal on top of the fridge. There were others that couldn't be used at that moment, but may be able to be used in the future. One such example is, “Find it beside the milk and cookies on the table.” We just don't have any cookies in the house at the moment, however, when we do, I'm sure I will be using it.

That is what I love about this game. It is so flexible! The parent chooses which cards and how many cards are going to be in play during a round. We can write our own clues and our own prizes if we so desire.

My children have been having fun working as a team. Even though this game is primarily to help the younger ones improve their reading skills, their older sisters play as well. Sometimes I will have them all play at the same time. I hide the clues while they are outside and then they form two teams, with one older sister helping one of their younger siblings. The younger children are to read as much as they can on the card and then they will get help if needed. They all go around the house together, though the teams alternates in reading the cards.

I have also had one team stay inside with me and help hide the clues and prize, while the other team plays outside. Once the prize is found, we switch positions. In this way, the older girls also have a turn to read the cards. When I set up the game, I make sure the cards alternate between easy and difficult, so the older girls have a bit more of a challenge.

The “Picture Helper” poster is supposed to help the children figure out words that are unfamiliar to them. There are four sections to this colorful poster. The Action Words are at the top. These are the four words that start the sentences: Check, Find, Look, and Search. The Place Words come next. They include, behind, beside, in, on, and under. The Helper Words are listed next: and, it, the, and your. Finally there is a grid of colored images that represent the words on the cards. The child can look for the word and then look at the picture to figure out where the next clue is. It is helpful if the children know alphabetical order as that is the way the pictures are organized. Of course, the parent can always help the child pinpoint the word.

We did use this poster one time, but discovered that it was a bit confusing for Harold to figure out. He wasn't quite sure how to look for the word, so we helped him. Then, he had trouble deciphering what the pictures were. The pictures that he would have recognized, he was able to read. Personally, I prefer teaching my children to sound out words, so I preferred having the older siblings help. Also, as we were heading up and down the stairs and all around the house, I found I had to carry the poster with me, otherwise we would have had to do more walking to go look up the words.

The children are absolutely loving this game, as am I. There are quite a few benefits, in addition to getting to practice their reading of course. As they search in teams, they are learning to cooperate and work together. They get to work on problem solving skills as they have to deduce where the clue might actually be hidden. We have also been getting a lot of exercise, running up and down the stairs. Of course, the amount of exercise will depend on the layout of your house.  This is a wonderful hands-on game that gets little kids up and moving while they are learning. It is great for beginning readers and struggling readers. It also states on the website, that uKloo would be suitable for ADHD or autistic children, plus ESL students.

I am quite impressed and definitely recommend it. In fact, there is a Riddle Edition that I plan on getting for the older children. I think they would have a blast.

- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016

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