Review: Bingo Bears Game

Close-up of a Bingo Bears bingo card with a purple plastic bear sitting on the card and a red and orange bear behind it.

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.

Photo of my then-3-year-old daughter holding bear and number tiles in her hands.

Components

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.

Photo of a Bingo Bears board with bear tiles added. The bear spinner sits next to it.

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.

Photo of a size comparison of three yellow plastic bears their corresponding bingo tiles.

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.

Unofficial Variations:

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.

Photo of a Bingo Bears board with number tiles added. The number spinner sits next to it.

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.

Unofficial Variation:

Longer game: Win when you cover all of your tiles ("blackout").

Final Thoughts

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.

Bingo Bears at Amazon — It’s $11 at the moment, half what I paid for it two years ago. A cursory check of Google Shopping finds the average price elsewhere between $18 and $22.

Three simpler single-subject versions are:

Photo of the Bingo Bears game box.

I include a photo of the box only because it’s the sturdiest cardboard game box I’ve ever seen. Thick.

Comments

5 Responses to “Review: Bingo Bears Game”

  1. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    How did you get your daughter ready to sit still for a game instead of wanting to run all over the place?

    July 24th, 2008 at 6:06 am

  2. Ticia says:

    This is actually part of a whole empire of learning games from Learning Resource. They have multiple different counting figures (that’s what the bears orginally were, before they figure out all the different ways they could be used). There’s also pattern recognition games.

    I bring this up only because they have a board game called Three Bears Hike, which also has a couple of playing levels. The 3 Bears have gone out on a hike, and need to get home. You roll the die and move any combination of your 3 figures up to what you rolled, or in the more competitive version you can move them back. I bought this for my niece back when I worked at a teacher supply store, and she loved it. Now that my boys are 3, I need to get them a copy. It also makes a nice tie in to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

    July 24th, 2008 at 6:33 am

  3. Jennifer says:

    One of my favorite games in the classroom! I really enjoy this one. Since the preschool classrooms have a vast array of “counters” (bears, trains, bugs, farm animals) the more advanced children play this game with different counters; having to place a small/medium/large and/or colored item of a different shape.

    It’s one of the best!

    July 24th, 2008 at 8:07 am

  4. AJ says:

    Hmm, MBR, how did my daughter sit still for the game… with the birth of our son, I hope to answer the age old question… nature or nurture?

    I’ve read that boys “academically” (for lack of a better word) develop slower… initially worse at concentration, worse at speech development, etc. My limited observation agrees with that viewpoint.

    While my daughter had a walking toy, shopping cart, etc. to race around the house, a lot of her toys are focused on sit-down activities. We were big on puzzles, and the ability to play an actual “game” with rules and turns was high on my list of things to get excited about.

    July 24th, 2008 at 8:34 am

  5. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Right now, my son is taking all those nice sit down toys we bought for him, throwing them back into the toy box, and then climbing into the toy box and using the layers of toys as a “Stepstool” to allow him to be high enough to climb onto the armrest of the glider, at which point he can climb up onto the couch!

    I can occasionally get him to sit down and look at a book, even to “tell” (just babbles) the story himself. But mostly, he goes from one toy to the next, wanting to have many things to do at once even when I try to limit.

    I need more activity ideas for helping him get his wiggles out! Luckily, he sleeps well at night.

    July 24th, 2008 at 11:06 am

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