Friday, February 28, 2014

Spot It! is Spot On...

Imagine this--you walk into a room to see a family of all ages staring intently at a table.  It is so quiet you can hear the refrigerator running  or possibly, the sound of heavy concentration.  Beads of sweat drip from your 4 year old's brow as she narrows her eyes in fierce anticipation! ALL the kids are quiet (and NOT because they are in trouble). Then all of a sudden 3 arms fly out and yell out nonsense like "Dinosaur, Cat, Question Mark."  You see a pile of hands gathered in the middle of the table--no one willing to give up their spot. It is like two football teams trying to retrieve the ball after a fumble.  After some tugging and pulling,  you untwist the hands, to find whose is on the bottom.  Everyone smiles and congratulates the winner (for the most part) and gears up for the next round.  That is what a game of Spot It! looks like and everyone in your family will enjoy it.   It says that it is made for Ages 7 and up but my 4 year old had no problem learning to play it . In fact, she can even beat me! My nine year old daughter describes this game as “INTENSE I-spy."  I asked my 7 year old boy if he like this game and he responded, "I don't like it, I LOVE it!"  Also, up to 8 people can play at a time.  So let's teach you how to play it so you can have an evening of intense fun!!!

Spot It! comes in a small circular tin about 3 inches in diameter.  I love this because it means it can be stored easily and taken places (think car trips, waiting rooms, and family vacations). Hooray for any activity that keeps troublemakers, I mean,  impatient hands busy! The tin contains 55 cards and an instruction booklet. 

The goal of this game is to “spot” the matching symbols on two different cards.  Every card has 8 symbols on it.  Each card shares one symbol with one other card.  The matching symbols are the same shape and same color but the size may differ.   On the two cards below, you will find a green question mark.  These cards have a match.  If the cards both had green questions marks but one is large and one is small, they are still considered a match.  That is what makes it tricky to spot a match!

The Spot It! Instruction booklet contains 5 mini-games that you can play.  Try them all and choose what you like.  Our family has even been known to create our own. The best part of each of these games is that they only take 1-2 minutes to play!  This fast paced game keeps everyone’s attention! Today, I will tell you about my family's three favorite mini games and a version we imagined up ourselves. I have set each of these games up to be played for 4 people but remember, up to 8 can play!

Mini game 1: The Tower
Deal one face down card to each player and place the remaining pile of cards on face-up in the the center of the table.  These remaining cards are the draw pile.   

The object of this mini game is to collect the most cards.  Every player should flip their card over at the same time.  We do this by saying, “Ready, Set, FLIP!”  Of course, the kids love to yell this as loud as possible! Once the card is flipped, it becomes the first card in each players personal pile.  Each player tries to find a match between the top card of his or her personal pile and the one in the draw pile. Remember, shape and color will be the same but the size may differ. If a match is found, the player must call out the name of the matched item. 

For example, if the player found an igloo on his/her card AND the card in the center, the player would say “Igloo.”     Here is the close-up so you can see the matching igloos.

The player would then take the top card of the draw pile and add it to his or her personal pile.  The only time a card is removed from the draw pile is when it matches the top card of a personal pile.  When that player takes the card on the draw pile, a new card is revealed. The game continues as each player tries to match the card on the top of his or her personal pile with the one in the draw pile. The person with the most cards wins! 
Younger children may have trouble calling out a few of the symbols because some are words like ART or STOP. Art is always green so my 4 year old calls it  “the green word” and we accept that.  

Mini Game 2: The Well

This is like the Tower in reverse.  Put one card face-up in the center of the table.  Deal the rest of the cards facing down to the other players. This is each player's personal pile.   Depending on the amount of players, this can result in an uneven amount of cards being dealt to the players.  To make it fair, I just make sure everyone receives the same amount because the object of this game is to get rid of all your cards first. 

We begin the game by shouting, "Ready, Set, Flip" and all players flip their entire personal pile over so all cards are facing up.  The first player to spot the same symbol on the top card of his or her personal pile AND the card in the middle, calls out that symbol's name.  Then the player removes the card from his or her  personal pile and places it in the middle on top of the previous card.  Now all the players try to match the new top card with the one on top of their personal pile.  The first player to use all his or her cards is the winner.  We usually go until only one person has cards left so we can award 2nd or 3rd place as well.  My 4 year old does pretty well at this game but is always beat by her 9 year old sister.  When we play for 2nd or 3rd, the 4 year old loves it  because she gets to be a winner too.  The best part of this mini-game is the smile it puts on my spunky 4 year old's face! 

In this version of Spot It!, you could institute a handicap to level the playing field when you are playing with multiple age groups.  If older children and adults are playing, they could start with more cards than children 5 and under.
Mini Game 3:  Hot Potato
First, deal one face-down card to each player.  Place the remaining cards off to the side for later.  This version is played in rounds.  The object of the game is to have the least amount of cards after all the rounds have been played.  Everybody flips over their one card and holds it face-up in the palm of their hands.  Since I have a 4 year old with little hands, we just set one card in front of each player.

Each player tries to find a match for his card in another player's hand.  If a match is found, the player calls out the match's name and places the card on top of the matching player's card.  For example in game of 4, player 1 finds a matching ladybug in player 3's hand.  He yells, "Ladybug" and places the card on top of player 3.  Player 1 waits for the round to finish.

Now let's say player 2 finds a match for his top card in the hand of player 4.   He then places both his cards on top of that match.  Player 4 now has to use whatever card is on top to find a match on the remaining player's card.

This continues until only one person has ALL the cards. The person with all the cards saves them in his personal pile and sets them aside.  Repeat with 5 or more rounds.  Tally up each persons' cards and the person with the least cards in his personal pile wins.  I like this version of the game because it plays to different player's strengths.  My 7 year old is usually the best at this one and he loves the chance to beat his older sister. 
There are two more mini-games included in the instruction booklet.  Try them out and tell me how you like them.  They are tons of fun too. There is one last version I'd like to tell you about.
Smack Down!
One of the best parts of Spot It! is that you can also make up your own games.  You won't find Smack Down!  in the instruction booklet because my family made it up.  It is similar to Slapjack. The oldest person plays the dealer first.  The dealer draws one card and chooses any symbol on that card.  

For this example, let's say he chooses the Dragon.  The dealer will continue to draw cards, placing them on top of the first.  When another players sees a card with the Dragon, he or she smacks it and yells "Dragon Smack Down."  He or she then takes all of the cards and places them in his or her personal pile and is the winner of that round.  This may or may not be accompanied by a victory dance and some gloating.  The winner of each round becomes the dealer;  the dealer does not try to smack the symbol and only deals out the cards.   This continues until all the cards in the draw pile are gone. The person with most cards is the winner.  

If you haven't noticed, I really love this game because it is so full of possibilities.  Here are a few more ideas I have on how to use this versatile game:
  • Give a child a card and ask him to write a story and draw a picture using EVERY picture on the card.  (Say hello to creativity and laughter!)
  •  Give each child several cards and a piece of graph paper.  Ask them to create a bar graph on the graph paper representing some of the symbols.  
  • Have a group of 4 or more sit in a circle.  Draw one card and choose a symbol.  Start a story using that symbol. Pass the card to the next person and he or she must choose a different symbol on the same card and add to the first person's story.  Continue around the circle until everyone has had a turn and ALL the symbols have become part of the story. 
I could go on for hours about all the wonderful possibilities found in a tin of Spot It!  If you like this game, keep in mind there are lots of versions available (Alphabet, Numbers, Shapes, Major League Baseball, Splash).  To find out about these versions, go to Blueorange Games.  Now that I have played the original, I can't wait to try the other versions as well. 

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