Igloo Pop, from Rio Grande Games is a family game requiring listening, estimating, and some deductive reasoning. The main component of the game is 12 plastic igloos, housing (thanks to you patience and care) from 2-13 tiny glass beads. If you shake the igloos, and listen carefully, you can actually estimate how many of those little beads they each contain. It is one of the few games that center on the senses, and, if only because of that, merits our collective attention. Especially when you think about how many games there are, designed specifically for children, that involve everything but the senses. There are guessing games, memory games, thinking games, drawing games, puzzles. But how many games can you name that involve auditory discrimination? My wife said it reminded her of a Montesorri activity. Only much more fun.
In addition to the igloos, you get a deck of 33 cards, and ten small wooden discs (“Thalers”) of different colors, one color for each of up to 6 players. The cards have anywhere from one to 3 different numbers on them – each number corresponding to a quantity of beads. Nine cards are turned face up, and the game begins. Players take turns selecting and shaking the igloos.
If you think an igloo has a quantity of beads that matches one of the cards, you place it on that card, and put one of your Thalers in a tight-fitting slot located by the door of each igloo. If the card has 3 different numbers on it, you are correct as long as the count matches any of the 3 numbers. You might also notice that there is only one Eskimo pictured on that card. Remember, some cards have only one number on them. Those cards have only one matching igloo. But they also have three Eskimos.
After there are no more igloos, or no one thinks any of the remaining igloos are worth a Thaler, the round ends. Players determine who is correct. The correct players win the Thalers on all the igloos that are parked on that card. And the player who’s igloo has the most beads in it wins the card. The next round is then played, and the game continues until someone has run out of Thalers. The player with the most points (Eskimos and Thalers) wins.
Assembly, as hinted above, is most definitely required, and adult participation is highly encouraged. You get a bunch of empty igloos, a bigger bunch of tiny glass beads (very cool tiny glass beads), igloo bottoms, and a sheet of stickers numbering 2-13. Into each igloo, you have to put the exact number of beads indicated on the sticker of your choice, sometimes rather forcefully press the igloo bottom into the igloo, and then put the sticker on. Fortunately, the effort required is relatively minor, compared to the fun you’ll have from playing the game.
Some kids might have a little difficulty in refraining from looking at the number on the bottom of their chosen igloo. If it’s too hard for them to refrain, it’s a good sign that they are not ready to play this game.
Though the game seems to be designed for children, it’s a good challenge for every member of the family, hence, Major FUN.