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I think I have already confessed to being a big child - but I love the three little pigs. I told my children the story from the time they were infants and we played all sorts of games involving knocking down houses made of blocks, boxes, sheets or anything else, followed by chase and tag games. We also happen to live on an interface, and we have had a few attacks on the house ( well maybe more than a few I'm sure I have well over 100 police reports). But they really can not get in. I have bomb proof doors, until recently had bullet proof glass, and I still have metal cages over the windows, but children can still be frightened so we always play a game. I have always assured the children no one can get in - our house is made of bricks, and every time the house has been hit we do the 3 little pigs song and dance and shout at the attackers as loudly as we can "You can huff and you can puff but you can't come in!". I'm sure anyone watching assumes I am mad - who knows they just might be right ;)
When I saw this game - I did have some second thoughts about buying it. It says for ages 3-6, but in all honesty it looks a bit babyish. Still, as I said we do have a special interest in the three little pigs, and we have enjoyed a similar game with a Gingerbread Man theme, so I gave this a try for my son's 4th birthday. I always like to have a small present saved for closer to bedtime, and a board game makes a lovely way to unwind after a very exciting day.
In order to play this game, you first must build the game board. This is really a large jigsaw puzzle made on especially thick card. There are only 6 pieces so it is quickly done, but it does add just a little bit to the fun of playing this game. It also means the game fits in a smaller box than most, making storage easy, and there is no worry of the board tearing in the middle with years of use. These pieces are very sturdy and would be almost impossible to bend, so are quite safe for little hands to play with. I would say they are of a quality to match the very best puzzles for young children. Next you quickly slot the the printed cards which serve as playing pieces onto the matching coloured stands, set out the spinner and house cards and you are ready to play.
Game play is very easy. You only have one dice so the child only needs to be able to count to 6 - or if they have not yet mastered this, and older player can help them count. The youngest player goes first. If they land on a a picture of straw, sticks or bricks, they take one piece of the item pictured. You need two pieces to build a house, and they are very easy to slot together. I believe most 2 year olds would manage fine. If you land on a wolf square you spin the spinner. If it lands on straw or sticks you get to huff and puff and blow away one piece from another player, taking it for your own house, If it lands on bricks you are not meant to do anything as the wolf can not blow down a brick house, but we make a great show of trying anyway, huffing and puffing until red in the face. The object of the game is to build all three houses, and then get your pigs to the safety of the brick house in the middle of the game board.
In all honesty, I do feel my sons were just a bit old for this game. If it were anything but the three little pigs, I would not have bought it. But we do still enjoy it now and then. It is fun game, and fairly quick to play with a game only lasting about 15 - 20 minutes, including set up time. It is not a game that will be played every night - or even every week - but it is still a fun addition to our games collection. I believe if we had bought this two years ago, it would have been played every night.
As mentioned, the recommended age for this is 3 -6, but I do feel it would best suit younger children. It says very clearly it should not be used by children under 3. This is because of the danger of choking on small parts like the dice, but I did play the Gingerbread Man game with my youngest from age 2, and I feel this game would be perfect as a very first board game for a very young child, as long as a parent is playing too and able to insure that small parts do not go into the mouth. My sons outgrew this stage at a very young age anyway so it was not a concern for us. If your child is still prone to popping small objects in the mouth very quickly over age 3, I still would recommend waiting. if they are past that stage and you can supervise - I see no reason not to allow smaller children to join in the fun.
Orchard Toys are usually meant to be educational. This game claims to " Develop number recognition and counting, Encourage communication and social skills and Link with Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum Maths". I'm not sure about the last claim - I think the math skills in this - counting would come in well before the child reaches the age of worrying about National Curriculum, but it certainly will help very young children learn to count and have a real grasp of numbers to six. It does encourage social skills such as taking turns, and it does have an obvious link to children's literature as well. I chose this game purely for fun - not for any educational purposes, but I know playing board games with children is linked to higher academic achievement in later years. I also feel board games provide a chance for families to come together, to talk, and share quality time together in a way that video games and other forms of entertainment find hard to match - so family game night is an important part of our family routines.
I would recommend purchasing this game for ages 2- 4 for most children. If your child does especially like the 3 pigs though then I would push the age limit upwards, and my 7 year old did still have fun with this, even if it isn't a game he would choose himself. I still enjoyed it myself so perhaps I shouldn't put an upper age limit at all. This game can be played by 2 -4 players. It currently sells for £9.59 on Amazon - although I am certain I paid less than £8. A company called Puppet Toys is currently selling this online with free delivery at £7.37, but I have not used this company myself. Even at Amazon's full price - I do think this is good value for money. It is well made and should last for years and it is quite fun as well. It is one of those games that just brings out silliness, and we can never play this without dissolving in laughter a few times. Laughter is like glue to a family - it keeps you together - so that alone makes this toy worth purchasing in my opinion.