Being part of the Orchard Toys ambassador programme we were asked to review the Magic Cauldron Game in time for Halloween. Of course we said yes, as their games have such great educational content and I have been working with Monkey on his numbers recently so hoped this would support this further.
- Age range – 5 to 8
- Number of players – 2-4
- Contents – the game contains 4 spooky cauldron board (2 witches and 2 wizards), 40 spell ingredient cards, 40 ‘magic’ sum cards and instructions. The magic element is that the ghost which covers up the answer to the sum will disappear when rubbed or heat from your fingers/thumbs is applied, to reveal the answer.
- Aim of the game – the winner is to be the first player to have filled their cauldron with the various potion ingredients. The youngest starts first by taking an ingredient card and turning over the card to see the number on the reverse. They then need to identify the sum which will give the same answer to keep the ingredient card and place it in their cauldron. They can check the answer by turning over the sum card and rubbing the ghost to see the answer, if it matches the number on their ingredient card then they have got it correct. If it doesn’t then the ingredient card goes back onto the pile for the next person to try.
- Skills – the game is designed to help develop number and counting skills. It has helped Monkey with number recognition although we still have a long way to go! For older children simple arithmetic with simple adding and subtracting sums. For more advanced children it includes multiplication calculations and addition with three numbers. The game also helps with observational skills and encourages turn taking, game playing and the social skills that are learnt with this.
Monkey was really excited about the game and loved the heat sensitive ghosts, marvelling as the numbers were revealed. As he is still trying to learn his numbers so I adapted the game slightly. I removed all the multiplication calculations and the addition ones where there were three numbers. I also used some glass beads to help him understand the calculations we were doing. I sorted the calculations so that there were only 20 which matched the ingredient cards and chose the simplest ones possible. Typically its been taking us half an hour to do about 10 (5 for me and 5 for him), but he is improving and still interested, which is the most important thing. He really does enjoy playing the game even though he is still learning his numbers and he keeps coming back to it. I am sure that this will help him with his numeracy skills, I have already noticed an improvement.
Things I love
- It encourages simple math while game playing – for Monkey he was happy to sit for half an hour at a time and learn his numbers. This is something we have struggled with as he just doesn’t have the attention span! Yet put it in a game and he doesn’t even realise he’s learning.
- It is the usual high quality I have come to expect from Orchard Toys, the illustrations are bright and detailed, the card thick and sturdy.
- I love the added dimension of the hidden numbers under the ghosts, I have not come across this idea on any other games and its in keeping with the Halloween theme.
- Like other games it is possible to download instructions from the website
The game retails at £11.75 and you can find it here on the Orchard Toys’ website. It would make a lovely Halloween gift for a child who has just started school and a great alternative to sweets and chocolate.