The nice folks over at MomCentral sent us 2 new products from the new division of Cranium called Cranium Bloom. We love Cranium, and received almost one dozen Cranium products this holiday season, so we might have a bit of a positive bias. However, I think even folks who haven’t binged on Cranium previously will love these, and then they’ll be hooked.
Cranium Bloom is a new division of Cranium games that are encouraging imagination and non-competitive game experiences for ages 3+. We tested the two
Cranium Bloom products we received with gamers ages 4, 7, 9, and 36. I’ll get to the specifics of each one in a moment, but my overall impression is very good – they are both products that are open-ended, cooperative, and can be played on more than one level. The ability for 4 year olds and 9 year olds to play the same game is a joy. My girls have also brought out the games to play without an adult, which is another joy!
We chose to play the Cranium Bloom, Let’s Play Count & Cook Game first. In this game, each player uses one of the four chef pieces to move around the board to collect ingredients for a recipe. The board has an oval path on it with circular spaces. Circular tiles fill each space, blank on one side and with a picture of an ingredient on the other side. To set up, you put the tiles face-up on the board, and each player puts their chef on any spot they wish.
Now comes the fun part of the Count and Cook Game! Someone chooses a recipe from the recipe book – things like chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, an omelet, or macaroni and cheese. When you’ve chosen a recipe, each player rolls the dice (numbered 1-3) on their turn. We go from youngest to oldest usually so my 4yo LG went first. LG manages to always get one of the ingredients for the recipe on her turn! If we were making peanut-butter chocolate-chip cookies, she would land on the peanut butter, and move that tile over to the recipe book. When the players have collected the ingredient tiles for the recipe, you pull a flap on the recipe to learn something new.
But wait, that’s not all! In addition to the ingredient tiles, there are 2 star tiles. The stars let you add something out of your own imagination to the recipe! I added honey to the Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich, MG (7) added Marshmallow Fluff to the Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip cookies. You never know what will come out of their mouths for a new ingredient – watch out that they don’t add sausage to your real cookies!
We all loved playing the Count and Cook Game, and in fact I had to stop writing this review twice to play it with the kids after I pulled out the box for reference! My children have food allergies, so they are very aware of food and cooking – they’ve even created a few recipes! However, I think that the Count and Cook Game helps foster an awareness of ingredients, creativity as you decide what to add as a mystery ingredient, and the inspiration to get involved in real cooking in the kitchen. LG seems to understand more that we need each ingredient, and if I’m out of fluff and chocolate chips, and low on peanut butter, I can’t make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with fluff!
The other thing we loved so much about the Count and Cook Game, is that it is a cooperative game. The players are working together to gather all the ingredients for the recipe, and while the person who finds the last ingredient gets to pull the flap, what is under the flap is read to everyone. Additionally, it’s a relatively quick game, so you can easily play a few games in a 30 minute time span, giving everyone a chance to “win”.
The second product we received was the Cranium Bloom Lets Go To the Zoo Seek & Find Puzzle. This is a combination of an open-ended game and a 24 piece puzzle. The puzzle’s large pieces make it clear that the target demographic is preschoolers, but when you play with the Go to the Zoo Seek and Find Puzzle, you can play with a wide range of ages.
My older daughters liked helping my 4 year old put together the puzzle part of the Go to the Zoo Seek and Find Puzzle, and then they sat, dry-erase pen in hand, waiting for me to read them a task from one of the two flip-books. The Beginner set of cards contains 15 tasks such as “Circle something Orange”. The Advanced set of cards has a slightly more complex set of 15 tasks, such as “Find something that begins with K” or “Circle 6 gumball machines”. My daughters worked together, helping each other with the different tasks (the kangaroo is hard to find!).
The two task books make it possible to play with the Go to the Zoo Seek and Find Puzzle with a wider range of ages than if they had only included the Beginner cards. All 3 of my daughters (4, 7, 9) really enjoyed the searching, the only problem was getting them to stop! My difficulty as the adult-in-charge was that 15 tasks for each level didn’t seem like enough. It felt like I was running out of tasks just as they were getting more and more excited. I realize that I could come up with my own tasks, but it would still be nice to have 30 cards in each set, rather than 30 combined.
The parts of the Go to the Zoo Seek and Find Puzzle were very well-made. The wipe-off puzzle fit together well, and wasn’t too tricky. The cards flipped easily in the flip-books, and the tasks were easy for me to handle and for my emergent reader to understand as well. The pen worked really well at circling, and yet wiped-off just fine. We will be bringing it to the next homeschool coop as a game for the four 4yos to play together – I have a feeling it will be enjoyed a lot!
We have had a lot of fun with the new Cranium Bloom products! We give the Cranium Bloom Count and Cook Game 5/5 spotlights – a great game that fosters cooperation, creativity, and cooking – and can entertain kids of a wide range of ages.
We give the Cranium Bloom Go to the Zoo Seek and Find Puzzle 4/5 spotlights. It’s a well-made, fun product that everyone enjoyed across the ages. However, it would have a longer-lasting appeal if there were more task cards.
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