There are instances when I'm slightly concerned that I have some sort of amnesia, because I have a hard time remembering a lot of details from my childhood. Is that weird?
However, one aspect that stands out in my mind as something I always enjoyed over the years was playing games. Board games, puzzles, card games... it didn't matter if the whole family was playing or I was just competing against my older brother (I do clearly remember the very first time I beat him at Othello, proving he wouldn't always be smarter than I was. Now that was a proud moment), there's something about a great game that can be so engaging and fun.
So, when it comes to selecting games that are entertaining, stimulating, educational and versatile, the clear winner is Maukilo and their wide selection of high quality HABA games.
Giving a twist to the classic game of memory, Splodge Memo by HABA is not only colorful and cute, but instead of the cheap cardboard that most are made of, these tiles are a smooth, solid wood. Both Big Sister E and Little Sister B had a great time turning over two at a time to see if they could make a match and the inclusion of a wooden character and die made switching from the traditional rules to any of the three innovative games provided a quick and fun variation.
Also, for another unique change to a conventional game, both girls haven't been able to get enough of the adorable entertainment we have found in HABA's Zippy Domino Scooters.
By matching roads, cars, trees, houses and more, Big Sister E was able to quickly grasp the concept of lining up the domino pieces end to end and the pride on her face was great to see. Whether playing this game solo or with others, the Zippy Domino Scooters slim wood tiles fit just right into young hands and would make for a perfect gift for ages 2 and up.
For a slightly older age (recommended for 5+), I found Mummy's Treasure to be a great way to introduce Big Sister E to dice games and how they are played. By rolling to match more of the various symbols, she was able to learn the basics of strategy and working towards "taking" more valuable treasure. Plus, as with most all of the kids I know, the whole idea of a buried treasure was right up Big Sister E's alley to begin with, so we have had many talks about all the fun things she would like to uncover while playing this game.
When we aren't talking about mummies and treasure, I love to listen to Big Sister E chat about all of the stories she imagines are going on in the lives of all of the characters in the Orchard and Pony Stud Giant Puzzles.
By combining two fun activities, a puzzle and a game, HABA's Giant Puzzles bring twice the enjoyment! After putting together the extremely sturdy cardboard puzzle pieces, Big Sister E loves when I read the "look closely" stories that accompany each of the puzzles while she performs a sort of I Spy search to answer the questions involved.
Even when the story is done, however, the Giant Puzzles have three wooden pieces (for example, a rabbit, crow and boy for Orchard and two horses and a girl for Pony Stud) that lead to endless imaginative possibilities. The ability to animate the detailed scenes shown has really expanded the use that these puzzles have gotten versus a traditional simple puzzle. Every time we open the box, we can have a different experience!
Finally, for a great way to give Big Sister E and I some practice with our color and number skills (we can all use a refresher every now and again, right?) we head straight for Kim & Tim - The color and number Squirrels.
Both the main playing board and the individual game boards can be used on either side, depending on if the focus is colors or numbers. After rolling the die, Big Sister E liked moving her piece to find out what she was able to collect next. This game was chalk full of educational value, but at no point in playing it did Big Sister E start to squirm or get antsy like she tends to do when she knows she is being taught or "forced" to practice important skills - a big plus!
With all of the games out there for kids, Maukilo's selection from HABA leads the pack in innovation and fun. The concepts are easy to understand and enjoyable for kids of all ages (adults, too!) and have the ability to keep players engaged from beginning to end. For at home or travel, from memory games to dice games to stacking games to guessing games, HABA has a high quality, well-constructed, entertaining game to match every child's interests.
In the end, if everyone has had a good time and can't wait to play again, that's the true sign of a great game. Finding out that you just happen to also be the winner... well, that's just an extra reason to smile.
(Other than the above-mentioned HABA games that I was provided by Maukilo, I was not compensated or enticed or to do this review in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion of these products, their fun features and their possible benefits.)