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Brainbox games was something that I only became aware of after seeing reviews on them myself. I bought my son a fairy tales version of the game and thought that it was quite a good little game and so I bought him the world version for Christmas. This is my review of the game.
==What are Brainbox games?==
Brainbox games are made by the green board game company and they are available to buy in various formats such as dinosaurs, maths, fairy tales and the world so I think there is likely to be something that would suit most children out there. They have a website but I have always sourced their games on amazon personally where I find there is a really good selection.
The games are designed to be fun to play but also educational. They test their game play in school environments on real children and so they are confident that their games will be well received by children but what is also good is there are multi level ways to play the game so that adults and children can enjoy the game together.
The games are also ethically sourced and made from recycled or recyclable materials which is nice to see from a brand to be honest. We are told on the packaging that the game is made and packaged from a minimum of 70% recycled material and is also recyclable. I am sure more information would be available should you do a quick google search on the brand.
==Brainbox games The World==
Brainbox games The World game is as the name suggests a game which focusses on learning about the world. The game is suited to those aged eight and above according to the box. This game comes packed in a small cube shaped box which is made from a thick cardboard and which is really bright and colourful and so it grabs your attention straight away in the cupboard. The box is magnetized and so you just lift a flap up to get to the contents but it feels really nice and secure when the flap is down as well.
Inside the box you get the following:
-1 rule card
-1 sand timer
-1 eight sided die
What is nice is the box has little cardboard sections so the cards slot in nice and neatly and there are also spaces for the timer and the die so it all fits well and is always ready for play when you want to play it.
Now what the basic idea of this game is is that you take a card and memorize it for the time available in the sand timer and then answer a question on the back of the card which corresponds to the number that you roll on the die. You can either play this game with one person or as many as you want really and I like that it is flexible in that way.
For one player you simply look at the card for ten seconds and then turn over the card and answer the questions on the card and if you get them all right you keep the card, if not you move on to the next. The idea is to collect as many cards as possible. Now I do think this is quite tricky to do because there are eight questions on each card and sometimes it can be hard to get just one right so my son tends to roll the die as he would if he were playing with more people and just answer the one. For two or more players you just do the same and when you roll the die you answer the corresponding question on the card. All the answers can be found by looking on the front of the card and it is just a case of remembering as much as you can in the ten seconds you get with the timer.
The cards are made from a thick cardboard and they feel a good quality and as though they would last well if looked after properly. They are full of colour and feature lots of different types of things and so some focus on countries whilst others focus on flags or people for example. The cards feature plenty of detail in terms of pictures and words and so the card for France for example features ocean, Paris and the Eiffel Tower, baguettes, bordering countries and such like. The idea is that you need to memorize as much as possible on the card and the ten seconds go so fast that I think it is really hard to memorize much at all! In comparison to the fairy tales version of the game I think there is more to remember on this one for sure.
We have only played this game a few times since my son got it for Christmas and each time we have played it we have all found it tricky to get any amount of cards really! This goes for adults playing as well as my son and so it isn't that it is just hard for children. As such we found it best to say the person with the most cards after ten minutes is the winner as opposed to the first to get five cards for example and this works quite well. The questions vary and I suppose it is really just a matter of if you know the information or if you have noticed a particular detail and so you may be asked what sort of animal was shown on the front of the card or how many penguins there are for example or it may be something you have a shot of knowing anyway such as the capital city of somewhere. Sometimes my son's young mind is better at remembering details to my older mind!
I do like how this game is easy to play in terms of there is no setting up and that it can be played for just five or ten minutes if you want to. I think it is perhaps a game that will grow with my son too. He is eight now and this game is aimed at those aged eight and above. I think as he develops more knowledge and understanding about the world that this game will appeal to him more. He doesn't tend to get it out of the cupboard to play it as there are many other games he prefers but as I say I do think it is one that would last a few years at the very least. It isn't a game that will be out every day but it is one that would be educational as they grow I think. This game currently costs £7.55 on amazon but they sometimes drop to around a fiver and I think at five pounds they are a buy that you won't mind being in the cupboard most of the time. I think this game is best suited to those aged around eight to eleven years personally but I think as with most things it is all about knowing your child and what they like.
Thank you for reading my review!
When buying some presents for my oldest son's birthday back in September, I had a quick browse through Amazon's bestselling toys list for some inspiration for a few cheap little extras. This Brainbox card game set caught my eye, as it had been in the bestsellers list for several months and had almost exclusively five star reviews from Amazon customers.
What Is It
'The World' is one of a number of card game sets produced by Brainbox, with this one focusing on different countries in the world. The boxed set is a very simple affair, consisting of a basic sand timer, funky triangular faced die and over seventy cards, with each card representing a different country of the world. Each card has a series of images and words which are associated with that particular country. This includes an image of the country, indicating its size, shape and location in relation to other countries. The card also includes the capital city as well as any major landmarks and key features that may be associated with the country, such as sports, animals, instruments or national dress etc. Each card generally has around six different images as well as place names and cities.
How to Play
The game is essentially a simple memory task, where each player is given ten seconds to memorise a selection of facts and images associated with a particular country on the front of the card. There are a series of questions printed on the back of each card relating to the words and images on the front.
There are essentially two different ways of playing the game, depending on whether this is being played alone or as a couple or group. As a single player, you can answer all of the questions and keep your own score. As part of a pair or group, the player rolls the dice and the number rolled is the question they need to answer. If answered correctly, the player gets to keep that particular card. The rules suggest that each game is played over a ten minute period, with the winner being the one who has accrued the greatest number of cards during that period.
My nine year old son is extremely competitive and also very thirsty for learning about new places and absorbs fact incredibly quickly. I thought this game would capture his interest immediately but, to be totally honest, he was not overly interested in the game initially and it was actually a few weeks before we played it properly. I suspect this was simply that he had an abundance of other toys and games for his birthday (including DS games and a remote control helicopter) that just seemed more fun and entertaining at the time. The game is presented quite simply, in a fairly sturdy box, and doesn't necessarily compete with other, more exciting toys and games.
Once we did actually sit down and play this, both I and my nine year old son did find it enjoyable. It makes a refreshing change not to have spend ages setting a game up or finding batteries and so on, with this game it is a matter of shuffling the cards and turning over the sand time and the game is ready.
The packaging recommends this game for children over the age of eight upwards, through to adulthood. I think this is fairly accurate although there is no real reason why slightly younger children couldn't play along too, providing they are pretty confident readers. Although much of the memorising and the questions that follow are based on images, the child does need to be able to read the random words and places that are printed on each card, relevant to each country in question.
Having just picked a card at random, Nepal includes the capital city (as do all of the cards) which in that instance is Kathmandu as well as a picture and the text Rhododendron. That is not necessarily typical of the level of the language used on each card but does demonstrate that a child would need to be pretty confident with literacy, unless the parent takes the time to cherry pick the simpler cards beforehand. I do recall that my son chose that particular Nepal card at one point and had a bit of a tantrum because he couldn't understand the words. As I want the game to be enjoyable (and as my son is a terrrible loser, even now) I do let him choose the cards a little and I tend to try and pick harder cards for myself.
This is billed as a game purely based on memory, with each player having the same opportunity to get the answers right as all of the information needed is printed on the front of the card. Realistically, most adult players will have something of an advantage over younger players, particularly those at the bottom end of the age range like my nine year old son. For example, I already knew many of the capital cities without needing to memorise the names from the cards. Younger kids also have the disadvantage of having to spend time working out the spellings of more unusual and difficult words. For this reason, I find the ten second period of memorising the facts on the card to be far too difficult for my son and I generally allow him at least thirty seconds per card. I also think allowing him extra time to read and look at the card, makes it more likely that he will absorb some of the facts and information which is, at the end of the day, part of the intention with this kind of educational game.
With so many different countries featured within this game, and a wide range of facts and information included on each card, there is no doubt that this game offers the opportunity for children and adults to absorb a huge amount of information about the world out there.
I'm no expert on Geography myself and this game has made me aware of new information and places that I'd never even heard of before. There was even a country included that I'd never come across before, leading me to google it out of pure curiosity. I discovered that the country in question, Myanmar, is actually the rather contentious renaming of Burma. (Unfortunately, this wasn't indicated anywhere on the card itself, although that kind of information would be quite difficult to include in a single word or image.)
I've also brushed up on my knowledge of capital cities and basic geography, certainly in terms of countries bordering other countries and the location of seas and oceans. My son has shown an interest in the different flags adopted by different nationalities. There is even a specific card dedicated to flags, as well as the flags featuring on the individual country's card.
Each card and game can lead to a wider discussion about different nationalities. This game certainly offers lots of scope for wider learning and would be a great additional for a classroom setting for children in key stage two upwards.
For any game to be educational, the child (or adult) really needs to enjoy playing, so there has to be a fun factor involved. Here, the game manages to achieve this. This will depend on the child themselves - they really do need to have a level of interest in other countries and the world in general, which I believe most kids of primary school age do, providing they aren't distracted.
The cards are brightly coloured and the variety and types of images included, help to keep my son interested. The questions asked are also varied, with some of them being purely observational. (For instance, asking how many of a certain object are pictured or what colours are featured on the flag.) The variation in the formation of the questions also makes it more tricky to decide what features to focus on, making the game challenging for adult players too.
Having the option to play this as a single player, gives this game an advantage over other board games although this isn't something that really appeals to either my son or me as we both enjoy the challenge of competing against each other. I can imagine that some people would take pleasure in methodically working their way through the cards as a single player.
The game itself can become a little repetitive after a while, as the format is so basic. The number of different cards means that there is no excuse for the same countries to be repeated but the general process itself does became a little repetitive. For that reason, I don't tend to enforce a set ten minute rule and simply play until one or both of us starts to lose interest. Sometimes that is well over ten minutes, sometimes after just five minutes or so - depending on other distractions!
Cost and Availability
The RRP for this game is £10. I paid £5 for this back in September 2011 from Amazon and find that the price fluctuates regularly between those two figures. It is currently available for £7.49. I'm happy with the price that I paid and would recommend shopping around rather than paying the full RRP. The game (and others including Maths and History versions) can also be purchased from WHSmith and Tesco Direct, amongst many other stockists.
This isn't my son's favourite board game, by any means, and it is one that he only really plays with when I suggest a game, rather than at his own suggestion. Nonetheless, it is a game that is surprisingly enjoyable, considering its simplicity and rather obvious educational focus (which could have been a bit off-putting to reluctant learners.)
I particularly like the simplicity of the game and the lack of added gimmicks and complications. The rules are simple and straightforward and the length of the game and the game play itself can easily be adapted to fit different children's needs and interests. I'm also impressed with the practical design of the box as everything fits inside neatly and securely after play. I think the set offers excellent value for money (particularly if bought for less than the RRP) considering the number of different cards included. From a practical parent's point of view, I also appreciate that no single card is crucial to the game - having so many cards, some are bound to go astray but that wouldn't affect the game's playability at all.
This isn't necessarily the most exciting of games and, if given as a gift, it probably won't be met with rapturous applause. Nonetheless, it is surprisingly entertaining, particularly in short bursts, and has the potential to fill a young mind with facts and information in a relatively fun way. For that reason, I would recommend this game for children aged eight and above, although some modifications may be needed to make the game slightly easier and more balanced towards them.