This fun, open-ended game based on one of the world’s most popular books for babies and toddlers is the perfect first board game for young kids. There are lots of different ways to play making this game appropriate for a wide range of ages.
Comments: As an avid fan of board games, when my first child was a toddler, I was incredibly eager to find a board game we could play together. Chutes and Ladders was out, because he couldn’t count. Candyland was promising since he knew his colors, but he could NOT get a handle on the concept of following a path. Shortly after his second birthday, I found this game based on his all-time favorite book, Goodnight Moon. At the time, it was the only game I could find that listed 2.5 instead of 3 as the minimum age.
We have enjoyed this game so much over the last 3 years. It really is a wonderful first game for toddlers and a great game for toddlers to play with slightly older siblings. The provided instructions list 6 different ways to play using the included game board (a picture of the scene from Goodnight Moon), the 24 cards (each highlighting one object in the scene), and the 4 two-sided playing boards (each with pictures of 6 objects, one side in color and one side in black and white).
Over the years, we’ve basically used the 6 suggested games as a guideline and come up with 3 slightly modified games. The first, which allows even our 18 month old to “play,” involves taking turns drawing cards and figuring out whose playing board each one belongs to. Whoever fills up their playing board first wins. Since my 18 month old loves Goodnight Moon, he already has lots of practice identifying the objects on the cards (with his adorable toddler pronunciation: “tat”=cat, “fiya”=fire, “bwush”=brush, etc.).
Another game we play is to take turns drawing cards and finding where each card is located in the scene of the entire room. There is no winner and even the youngest toddler can play. A modification of this is to take turns matching 5 cards to the board, then having that player cover their eyes while another player removes a card. The player then opens their eyes and identifies which one is missing. My older kids (3.5 and almost 6) love this and will keep playing together without my help even after I lose interest and wander away.
The last game my older kids enjoy is each choosing a playing board, then laying the cards in a grid face down and taking turns flipping over a card to see who can fill up their board first. I’m amazed by how often my 3 year old is able to beat her big brother. This is very similar to a memory style matching game, but instead of matching cards, each player has 6 specific cards they are trying to find.
The instructions also include games for older children, such as laying out the entire set of 24 cards, having one player close their eyes, removing one, mixing them up, then having that player find which one is missing. We haven’t tried this, but that sounds like a challenge even I would enjoy (and having read Goodnight Moon approximately 3 thousand times in the last 6 years, I feel like I could probably do this). Since my kids’ memories are so much better than mine, they could probably do it as well.
The instructions claim that this game is good for developing “visual and cognitive” skills “essential in learning to read” as well as providing opportunities to learn “tactical and strategic thinking.” I’m honestly not sure if this game does all that, but if you are looking for a structured game to play with your young child (or children) that will allow them to use their memory and matching skills, this is an excellent place to start. Familiarity with the story Goodnight Moon is in no way required.