This is a fun game for early preschoolers that teaches a variety of simple skills such as matching, color identification, counting to two, motor control, and turn taking. It’s engaging enough that older kids who are already good at these skill will like playing with younger siblings.
Product: The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Company: Educational Insights
Recommended Age Range: Ideal for 3 year olds
Price Range: $15-$20
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Comments: My 3 year old thought this was absolutely the most perfect game. You get to use squirrel shaped tweezers to pick up acorns from a colorful tree inside the lid of the box and place them on appropriately matched colored spots on your log to save for winter. This game is reminiscent of Hi-Ho Cherry-o, but more fun.
The skills that this game promotes:
- taking turns
- remembering and following instructions – Each spot on the spinner represents a different action, all of which my 3 year old understands.
- color recognition – The acorns are each colored red, blue, green, purple, or orangey-yellow. It would be better if the yellow one were a little more distinct for the purpose of learning colors, but this is a small complaint.
- counting – The child learns to recognize the numbers 1 and 2 and the meaning of each.
- matching – Acorns are placed on the hole on the log with the matching color.
- fine motor control – The child uses the tweezers to pick up the acorns and place them on the log. This is the most difficult part of the game for my 3 year old, but she likes the challenge.
However, the most useful aspect of this game in my opinion is that it teaches young kids to handle disappointment without a meltdown and lets them practice being a good sport. There are numerous negative consequences in this game, which my 3 year old handles with varying degrees of dignity. Here they are in order of least offensive to most disappointing from the point of view of my 3 year old.
- You might not get the outcome you want when you spin and then have a grown-up tell you that there are no “do-overs”. This was pretty hard at first for my daughter, but she understood pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to change the rules for her and hasn’t had a problem since.
- You can spin a color you already have, meaning you don’t get to do anything on your turn.
- You can lose your turn.
- You might spin such that you have to put ALL your acorns back. I was actually expecting a big fuss with this outcome, but she was pretty nonchalant the one time it happened to her. Of course, she loves when it happens to someone else.
- You might lose.
- The biggest disappointment of all is when someone else spins the sneaky, snacky squirrel and decides to take your acorn. We basically had a category 5 meltdown the first time this happened. Putting all 4 of your acorns back into the box on your own is one thing, but having your brother take away one of yours is something completely different.
Thankfully, the more we play, the better my 3 year old gets at handling each of these disappointments. She still doesn’t like when someone “steals” her acorns, but she’s cute and vocal enough that it doesn’t actually happen very often and when it does, she pouts quietly instead of screams. The reason why she loves this game so much is that she lives for the moment when SHE spins the sneaky squirrel and gets to take away someone else’s acorn. She is in a constant state of hopeful anticipation when we play this game. It may not be the most fun or challenging game for older kids and adults, but watching the joy my 3 year old experiences when she plays this game definitely makes playing worth it (even if she does steal my acorns).