Recommended Ages: 3½-5
We’re going to rag on some classic games here, so don’t get offended if we step on some precious childhood memories.
Many classic games for the Toddler set lack any sort of choice or input from the toddler. There is no choice involved in Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders, they’re completely random based on the shuffling of the card or the spinning of the spinner. Many of these games are popular for younger children because of this lack of choice. They’re easier to play, one simply does what the card or spinner tells you to do. They have some marginal educational value, teaching colors and numbers but somewhere between ages 4 and 5, most children become bored by them.
Enter Cariboo, a game produced by Seattle based Cranium, Inc for the Toddler and up set. Gameplay is simple and fun, with lots to keep youngsters entertained. First drop the six balls into the chutes. Next players take turns drawing cards, matching clues on the cards to a door, opening the door using the provided key, and looking for a ball underneath. If a ball is found, it’s placed into the treasure chest chute. When the last ball is dropped into the chute, the treasure chest opens for the winner.
Note that there are two sets of cards and doors that can quickly be swapped out. One set for younger kids to match colors, shapes, simple numbers (1, 2, 3 only) and simple letters (A, B, C only), and another for older kids that use the full alphabet and numbers up to 10.
We first got Cariboo for the boys 4th birthday where we played the young child version, and they still frequently pull it out even today to play the “big kid” way.
- Great game for the 4-6 year old set.
- Game play can change to keep it interesting as kids get older.
- A chance to win a ball every turn.
- Balls are larynx sized (choking hazards for those under 3 years old).
- No storage spot for the key or cards.
- Balls get played with and lost. Note that you can reorder replacement Cariboo balls: