Count Your Chickens

Count your Chickens is yet another significantly fun cooperative game from Peaceable Kingdom. It is the third of their cooperative games earning a Major Fun award (see Stone Soup and Hoot Owl Hoot). Like all of the five games currently in this collection, it is sensitively designed – sensitive to the environmental costs of producing a boxed game, sensitive to the way children play together best.

Of all their games, this one is designed for the youngest age group (children as young as three). It also has the very thing that many parents and teachers seem to need in order to justify letting their kids play games – an educational component.

We don’t give Major Fun awards because a game has anything to do with learning something. We give them because we think the game is fun, unique, inviting, easy to learn, easy to play, over and over again. A game that’s fun and also somewhat educational – well, there aren’t many of them at all, at all.

The educational component? Counting. Hence the name of the game. Hence the appropriateness for a 3-year-old. And the counting part is beautifully integrated into the game, adding a unique element to the excitement of the whole play experience.

When you open the clearly illustrated board, you see a windy path leading up to the chicken coop. There’s a large green field surrounding the path where you put all your chicks (small, round, chick-illustrated tokens). On the path are various animals and farm implements, with one exception the very farm animals and implements depicted on the spinner. That one exception is a cute, but pesky fox.

On your turn, you spin your well-made, freely-spinning spinner. When the spinner is all spun out, you look at the picture it is pointing to, and move to the first space on the track that shows the same picture. While you move, you count the spaces you travel. That number tells you how many chicks you can take off the field and put into the chicken coop. What a sweet connection to make, conceptually, and for the fun of the game. You can’t tell how beneficial a spin will be until you actually count out the spaces on the board. And, while the correspondence between the spaces on the track and the number of chicks further reinforces your understanding of the property of counting, there’s something magically fun about experiencing the connection.

O, and then there’s that pesky fox on the spinner. Land on it, and you have to evict one of your chicks from its happy place in the henhouse, and place it back in the wilds of the field. O, pesky, pesky fox.

So, you might not actually win. Despite your collective efforts and gathered wisdom, even if your parents are playing. So you might have to play the whole game all over again for yet another 15 minutes of gentle, cooperative fun.

Count Your Chickens was designed by Peggy Brown of Creative Consulting, LLC, with illustrations by David Walker. It is played peaceably, with 2-4 players.

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