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My young daughter is often heard coming out of her Nursery singing nursery rhymes at the top of her voice and one of her favourites is 'I'm the King of the Castle'. When I saw that the excellent Orchard Toys company makes a game with the same name, I knew that this had to be a present for her third birthday.
All Orchard toys are bright and colourful with most of their pieces made out of strong sturdy card which are very likely to be damaged by tiny little fingers! Also, the games seem to have a lot of educational value and it is the same with this game which should help little children with both their counting and their colours.
There are a number of different pieces in the game. Each player has their own board which has a winding path on it and consists of ten spaces. These board are placed strategically on the table so that they are all heading towards a colourful cardboard castle. The aim of the game is to be the first one to move their prince playing piece to the end of the path and reach the castle and therefore become king. The ultimate prize is to wear the special crown that is ready for the king!
The individual playing boards are double sided. One side just has spaces whereas on the other side there is a colour within each space. there are also two dices depending on which version you want to play. One just has the numbers and the other is a colours die. It's not just as simple as rolling a die and moving the correct number of spaces or to the correct colour though. There is also a spinner and after you have rolled the die you spin this and it depends whether the spinner points to a castle or a snail as to whether you can take your move.
When we first played the game I was a bit disappointed because I thought it was a bit too simple but I have to say that my daughters (aged three and four and three quarters) both love it and want to play it time and again. Although the cardboard castle doesn't really serve a purpose in the game they love it being there and I think it adds to their motivation to play. They also love the crown and absolutely love being the one who is able to wear it. As it is quite a quick game you can play quite a few rounds in one sitting (which gives everyone a chance to win!) and therefore the previous round's winner can wear the crown during the next round. The crown is a little on the small side though and does tend to slip off shiny hair quite easily. My husband was playing with the girls and when he won, the crown hardly fitted on his head at all! Mind you, the girls did find this very funny!
This is a very good game to help children with their early counting and their colours. We encourage our youngest one to do all her counting for herself and she is getting very good at counting all the spots on the die and then counting the number of spaces she has to move. I think it's also very good for developing social skills especially turn taking. I was impressed with how my daughter who is now three, waited patiently for her turn and did not try to move all the other pieces, as she has attempted to do in the past! Also, as it is a very straightforward game, I can see that with her elder sister's help they will be able to set up the game and organise it to play on their own, when we aren't able to sit with them. However, having said this, I do love playing board games as a family and that is the sort of thing I want to continue!
So overall, this is a very useful and durable games. It seems well thought out and easy to play. Everything is bright and colourful, which in turn is very motivational and I'm sure that very soon this game is going to be a firm favourite!
At the moment it is available from Amazon for £10 and it is recommended for three to six year olds.