Like many American game publishers, University Games publishes a number of games based on licensed properties. Usually these games are nothing more than your standard roll and move game with artwork from a book or TV thrown in. It’s often a stretch to call these games. They are more like a commercial for the product being licensed. My son is a big fan of Super Why by PBS Kids, so when I saw the game at the New York Toy Fair I knew it was something I needed to check out. When I was opening the box I hoped that this wouldn’t be the same old roll and move commercial. I was delighted to see that it wasn’t. In the TV program the characters are known as “Super Readers”. They use various literacy skills to solve a problem. In the game, players use the same skills that are featured on the TV show. It’s a fun way to work with preschoolers on these skills.
Players start by spinning the spinner and moving that number of spaces. You might be thinking “wait, you said it wasn’t your standard roll and move game”. Even though has a roll and move element, that isn’t the central element of the game. The central element is using literacy skills. After moving, your playing piece will be on one of the four character spaces. These correspond to the main characters on the show. You draw a card that matches that character.
- Alpha Pig (Alphabet Power) The card will show a lowercase letter. You must point to the uppercase version of the letter on the board.
- Wonder Red (Word Power) The card will have 2 words that rhyme. You must say a word that rhymes with them. The card shows both text and pictures for both words.
- Princess Presto (Spelling Power) The card shows a picture. You must point to the first letter or the first two letters of the word pictured.
- Super Why (The Power to Read) There are two types of Super Why cards. The first shows a picture and you must point to the word on the board that matches the picture. The second type shows a silly sentence with one word underlined. You must point to a word on the board that should replace the underlined word to change the sentence to one that makes sense. With younger children you might want to not use this second type of card.
The game box says for ages 3 and up and that seems reasonable. My son is 2 and half and we’ve started playing it with him. He’s not ready for the rhyming part yet, but that doesn’t stop us from playing. We just have him point to the first letter of one of the words on card.
You might need to adjust the game to the literacy level of the children playing. Just remove the cards that use skills they haven’t acquired yet. You can add those back in as they progress. Of course if they aren’t reading yet, you’ll need to read the card to them, or better yet “with them”.
If your kids love Super Why then they’ll probably love this game. If they know the characters from the TV show, they should pick things up very quickly. Don’t worry if they aren’t familiar with the TV show, they can still play and learn.