Monday, May 27, 2013

Product Review: Spot It Jr! - Animals by Blue Orange Games

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen this picture that I posted:

I asked what you thought might be in the boxes and many of you guessed that I was receiving games to review for you.  You were right!  The top box contained two fun games from Blue Orange - Tell Tale Fairy Tales and Spot It Jr! Animals.  Today I'm going to share my experiences with Spot it Jr! Animals.  This game is a variation of the popular Spot It!, which is recommended for ages 7 and up.  You can try out the original Spot It! online HERE to get a better idea of how the game works.

As you can see, the game comes in a convenient tin for storage.  I wanted to include this part of the box in the picture so that you can see that this game is recommended for ages 4 and up, can be played with 2 to 6 players, and takes approximately 15 minutes to play.

What else should you know?  This game has 31 cards that each have 6 different animals of different sizes.  There are 30 different animals in all.  There is only ONE animal match between any two cards. The object of the game is to Spot that match as fast as you can!

The game directions provide FIVE different ways to play:

  1. Twins:  Each player takes turns drawing two cards from a pile (face down in the center of the table).  Once the cards are turned over, all players try to find the match.  Whoever finds the match gets the cards.  The person with the most at the end is the winner.
  2. The Tower:  (see below)
  3. The Well:  One card is put face up in the center of the table, shuffle and deal the rest to the players.  At the same time, players turn over their piles and look at the top card.  The first to find a match places it on top of the center pile and play continues.  The first to run out of cards is the winner.  
  4. Hot Potato:  Deal one card face down to each player.  Players turn over their cards at the same time, holding it flat in an open palm.  If you find a match on another player's card, call it out and place your card face up on that player's card.  Repeat until one player has all the cards.  Continue with another round.  The player with the least amount of cards at the end of the final round is the winner.
  5. Triplet:  Place all cards face down in a pile.  One player takes the first 9 cards and places them face-up 3x3 (like a tic-tac-toe board).  At the same time, players try to find a match on any THREE cards.  The player calls out the animals and gets to keep the cards.  Those three cards are replaced and another round begins.  The person with the most cards at the end is the winner.

The day I received the packages, I just happened to be home with a sick little boy.  As soon as I opened the box, he perked right up and wanted to play "Nemo."  By the way, most of the preschoolers with whom I played this game thought it was "The Nemo Game" at first.  I opened the package and read the instructions and we got right to it!  We played "The Tower" version.

He doesn't look very sick, does he? :)

To play "The Tower," you shuffle the cards, deal one to each player, and place the remainder face down in the center of the table.  You flip over the top card and the first one to shout out their match gets the card from the middle. Keep playing until the cards in the middle are gone. The player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner!  We played with two players and my son is three years old.  Even though the game was recommended for ages 4 and up, he did fine with it, as did my three year old preschoolers at work.  It might have taken a bit longer for the little guys to find their matches than the older kids, but they still enjoyed the game!  Surprisingly, I occasionally found myself having difficulty finding matches!  I think this is because the animals vary in both size and position from card to card.

After a very successful test-run at home, I brought the game to school to use in therapy.  Because all of my students are on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), I decided to stick with "The Tower," because I thought it would be the easiest variation for the kids.  Here's a group of four students looking for their matches:

And a group of two students...This little guy had to touch each picture and compare to his card before finding his matches.

I wanted to mention that I found that my kids with decreased attention really needed extra time to find the matches.  If you have a child with reduced attention in a group of other children with better attention, you might want to play as a turn-taking game.  At the end of one session, I had one child (with fairly reduced attention) who ended the game with only two matches - and I made them all take turns for their first attempt!

You may be wondering how this game relates to speech and language therapy?  Well, we used it to target:

  • Vocabulary:  animal names
  • Classification:  ocean animal, zoo animal, forest animal, etc.
  • Attributes:  color, size, legs/wings, etc.
  • Superlatives:  e.g., "My biggest animal is the octopus"
  • Receptive language:  e.g., Point to the smallest animal, Point to an animal that lives in the water, etc.
  • Confrontation naming skills:  Before we started, I quickly flipped through all the cards and had students name the biggest animal on each)
  • WHO questions:  Who has a big octopus?, Who has an animal that can fly?
  • WHICH questions:  Which animal has the most legs?  Which animal runs the fastest?
  • Comparing/Contrasting:  How are an octopus and a dolphin alike?  How are they different
  • Articulation of multisyllable words:  Spot it Jr. Animals features animals like alligator, octopus, gorilla, grasshopper, etc.  Perfect for sound sequencing skills!
  • Articulation carryover:  Not sure why, but many animal names contain common tricky phonemes /l/, /s/ and /s/ blends, /f/, /k/, /r/, etc.

I played this game in groups of 2-5 people (sometimes I played with the kids).  I used it with ages 3-6 with good success.  No one was bored and everyone had fun!  I found that it took a little over 15 minutes for some groups, but others were able to play twice in a thirty minute therapy session.  It probably took longer because we first reviewed the vocabulary and then added speech/language targets (see above).

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I thought this game was GREAT for therapy sessions!  You can target so much in that little round tin!  Matching is a simple concept and most kids can pick up on the idea pretty quickly, so it doesn't require a lot of pre-teaching.  Also, because of the versatility of this game, you can easily use it with mixed groups and target multiple objectives within the same session!

If you are interested in purchasing this game, you can do so through the Blue Orange website.  In addition, I was able to find all of the games on (affiliate links are below).

What do you think of this game?  What would you use it to target?

Spot It Jr! Animals and other games from the Spot It! series:  

Disclaimer:  Blue Orange provided Spot It Jr! Animals for the purposes of this review.  However, the opinions expressed are mine alone.
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