Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Review: Bingo Bears Game
Bingo Bears by Learning Resources is a versatile version of the classic old lady church game.
This version is rated for 4-year-olds, but our daughter has played it since she was about 2.5-years-old. The age restriction is due to a choking hazard, so it’s not for every child or living situation.
Many bingo games are on the market, and the game is easy to make at home, so share your tips and ideas by posting a comment.
I’m a fan of Bingo Bears because there are two official ways to play and several ways to adapt them for easier or longer play.
The games are generally quick and require no strategy, just basic identification skills.
The game consists of 4 thick cardboard bingo cards (8.5"x11"), a double-sided spinner, 32 double-sided cardboard bingo tiles (1.5"x1.5" bears and numbers) and 36 plastic bear markers.
Official Bear Rules
Players create their own bingo boards by grabbing 8 random tiles and inserting them into their own personal board with the bear sides up. Each tile contains a drawing of a bear in 1 of 6 colors and 1 of 3 sizes. The littlest toddlers may need your help placing the tiles.
Players take turns flicking the spinner (bear side up) and announcing what bear has been selected. For example, "large blue bear," or "medium yellow bear." The rules encourage you to designate the large bear the papa, medium the mama and smallest the baby.
Everyone looks for that bear on their own board and, if it exists, places the corresponding bear-shaped figurine. A free space at the center of the board can be filled upon the first miss.
Placing the bears on the board is more difficult than it sounds. My wife, my daughter and I each occasionally have trouble distinguishing the large and medium bears, requiring us to get two of varying sizes in our hands to make the call. This is my only complaint about the game.
A solution is to organize the bears before the game, giving or having each person take the bears they will need to fill their own boards.
The pieces themselves are impressive, molded as 3-dimensional figures.
Sometimes we place them on their backs and say they are sleeping.
Play continues until someone covers three bear tiles in a row in any direction. That person yells "Bingo Bears!" and wins the game.
1. Simpler: Ignore bear sizes, instead only matching the six colors (the colors of the rainbow). This is the version we played with our daughter first because she knew her colors, but couldn’t judge sizes.
2. Longer game: Win when you cover all of your tiles ("blackout").
3. Confusing: Ignore colors, only looking at bear sizes and play with the #2 blackout variation. Ignoring the colors can be difficult!
4. Hardest: Only place a tile on your board when it’s your turn. Each person spins to affect only their own board. This is best played with variation #1, otherwise there will be many spins where no plays are possible.
Official Number Rules
In this game you’re spinning for numbers instead of bears. The rules are the same as the Bear version, except each bingo tile has a number 1 through 6 and the spinner selects a number 1 through 6. Colors are not part of the game.
The numbered tiles also contain a corresponding number of bear heads. So, toddlers who do not recognize numerals by sight can use their finger and count the number of heads.
When one of your numbers is called, place a bear marker of any size and color on the tile. To avoid excessive delay, have the kids choose their markers before the game begins.
The game is won with any combination of three-in-a-row.
Longer game: Win when you cover all of your tiles ("blackout").
We also own a traditional numbered bingo game with the ball tumbling basket and everything, but at 4-years-old it’s too long and too boring. Bingo Bears is the opposite, engaging kids with color recognition, size comparisons and number identification.
I like that everyone gets a turn at the spinner, and everyone has the potential to play a marker regardless of who spun. No one is sitting idle.
Plus, for the littlest ones, it’s an introduction to flicking a spinner. It’s easy to take for granted the simple skill of putting your index finger to your thumb and successfully flicking a dial.
Three simpler single-subject versions are:
I include a photo of the box only because it’s the sturdiest cardboard game box I’ve ever seen. Thick.