Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Travel Yahtzee Game

A couple of months ago on a rainy day, The Daily Kool family took on an insidious task...we decided to clean out one of our overflowing "junk" drawers. You wouldn't believe how much...well, junk...we had accumulated in one relatively little space. Oh, yes...we were lucky to get out alive. So here we were, arguing over whether we should toss out a key chain version of a shrilling chicken, when our children picked up a set of dice and began rolling away. We looked at each other and, expert procrastinators that we are, immediately said, "Break time!" Our children were about to learn an old classic...Yahtzee.

Why it never occurred to us to buy a
Yahtzee set before is a mystery...but as parents, we are masters at improvisation. We just went on the computer to print out a free Yahtzee score card, made sure we had five dice and we were ready to go. The kids had an absolute did we! It's easy to understand why Yahtzee is the world's most popular commercial dice game. To play this addictive classic, you roll five dice (three times per hand) in an effort to make different combinations for the most points. Shoot for a three-of-a-kind, a full house, a straight and more. Get five of the same number and you've gotten a "Yahtzee" for 50 points. The "rolls" are based on standard poker hands, with a few extra bonuses thrown in. Don't worry, we're not training our children for the World Poker Tour just yet...but Yahtzee is certainly a great prelude to other card games, including Gin Rummy. It's also a terrific way to practice math and introduce the concept of probability to children.

Though we were certainly able to come up with a quick makeshift version of a family
Yahtzee game, our kids love it so much, we just had to find a portable version to take with us on the go. Travel Yahtzee became a terrific solution for long waits at restaurants, doctors' offices and even on an airplane. There were a few options for us to choose from, but we ultimately selected the Folio edition of the travel Yahtzee game. It comes with everything we needed to enjoy a quick family game on the go. The felt-lined play area keeps the roll confined...very important, especially with over-exuberant children. The dice rolling cup is also lined with felt, perfect for keeping the noise down in places that require quieter play. The special compartments keep the dice in place during the game and prevents them from rolling around when put away. Complete with a soft side-zippered case, deluxe dice, scorepad and pencil, the Folio edition is a great way to shake up some Yahtzee wherever we go.

If you'd rather, there are several Yahtzee Jr. editions that are ideal for preschoolers and other younger children. These greatly simplified versions of the original use character pictures instead of numbers, and the scorecard uses tiles to keep track of hands. Yahtzee Jr. is a great introduction to the game...we were given a Mr. Potato Head one (we think it's discontinued), and have found several others, including Disney Princess and Pokemon. Don't underestimate your younger ones, though...regular Yahtzee may not have the engaging characters, but it does provide a better learning experience, more player options and is more ideal for children of varied ages. We tend to use our Yahtzee Jr. edition when we are playing alone with our own preschooler, and regular dice or our Folio travel Yahtzee game when our older children join in.

Our Folio edition of the travel Yahtzee game is one of the best ways to keep the entire family entertained on the go. Quick play, simple rules, educational and just plain fun, Yahtzee is one of The Daily Kool's favorite games. After more than 50 years, Yahtzee is still a very "kool" idea.

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