Into the Forest
This is one of the best educational games I have ever played. It teaches kids the science behind food chains. Kids can work on their math skills since you need to add a series of single digit numbers at the end to total your score. Best of all, it is really fun. Even young kids can understand the rules, but to win requires strategy and forethought.
Product: Into the Forest: Nature’s Food Chain Game
Company: Ampersand Press
Recommended Age Range: 8 to adult (my younger kids can play with help, but reading skills are required to play independently)
Price Range: ~$20 (check Rainbow Resource if Amazon is over $20)
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In this game, players are competing to collect the most energy points. Plants provide the most energy. Animals higher on the food chain provide the least. However, to win cards, you need to challenge other players by having your card “eat” theirs. For example, “My coyote takes your rabbit.” Or, “My rabbit take your grass.”
The animal cards themselves let you know what each animals eats and what they are eaten by. Even animals that are at the top of the food chain, like bears and bobcats, can get taken with “Death and Decay” cards.
What I love about this games is the competing forces. Death and Decay cards seem like they would be the most desirable, but they have no energy point value. If you are near the bottom of the food chain, like an earthworm, then you can get eaten by lots of animals. However, you have a higher energy value and you can eat even higher value cards like grass and leaves. Earthworms can even eat decaying matter, so they can take the all-powerful Death and Decay card.
It’s complicated, but fun! It helps with kids’ reading, memory, math, and strategic thinking skills in addition to teaching science. The only problem is that it is hard to play with kids who can’t read well. There is a lot of information on the cards to sort through. For that reason, my husband and I usually only play this game with the big kids when the little kids are distracted in the bath or playing outside.
However, I think when all of our kids are older, this is going to be a really fun game for the entire family. It say that is meant for 6 players, but it would be fairly straightforward to play with 7 or 8 players instead. Everyone would just get fewer cards to start.
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