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July 6, 2010

New Games: Sound Bingo

This time of year, vacations loom (pleasantly, of course). And so does the need for portable entertainment, both for use during travel itself and for whiling away the hours spent at houses not one’s own. A few favorite books and videos used to suffice for us, when our oldest child (now five) was still very young, but these days, the need for a wide variety of options becomes ever clearer. Since my younger son is not quite two years old, though, it can be hard to find games we can all play together; for the most part, I think, we’ll just have to wait another year or so.

But we have found one game that’s simple enough for Griffin to at least be engaged in (with extreme parental help, but hey) and yet not too dull for Dash to enjoy: Sound Bingo. The concept is, well, bingo, and the execution is simplicity itself: The boxes you fill with your bingo chips contain images that correspond to sounds on the included CD. Each player gets a board and some chips, then stick the CD in the player and put it on “Random.” You then hear a series of sounds—a rooster crowing, an alarm clock ringing, a train whistling, etc.—and if your board contains the image the sound goes with, you put a chip in it.

From there, it’s regular old bingo rules; first one to fill four boxes in a row, in any direction, is the winner. It’s a really easy game to teach very young kids, and while Griff is really too young to learn any game yet, he enjoys following along and hearing the sounds. (The little chips are considered choking hazards, so parental involvement is a definite necessity when he’s involved.)

Dash, meanwhile, is thrilled to be able to really master all the rules of a game. Board games in general still being pretty new to him, we’ve also been using Sound Bingo to teach him good sportsmanship. I must shamefacedly admit, however, that watching him actually get upset at losing a round of such an entirely random game forced me to suppress some laughter for a moment. (I got my serious teaching face on quickly, I promise.)

It did occur to me that this game is so simple that you could create a version for yourself pretty easily…but it also occurred to me that that’s one of the many, many wonderful ideas Whitney and I are extremely unlikely to ever get around to, especially right before a vacation. Being able to pick up a prefab version for $15 or so that we can use for the week we’re away from home is well worth it. I suppose if it turns out to be a favorite, we could create add-on versions, but the boys would have to be almost alarmingly enthusiastic about the game for that to happen, to be honest. In the meantime, I’m grateful to have a play-ready game served up to me on a platter.

[Images courtesy of Chronicle Books.]

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