Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Birdcage Press

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We really enjoy watching the birds that live in our backyard. During the winter months, we don't have too many, but in the summer, our backyard is a haven to many different birds. We have set up several houses and feeders, and there is constant activity at them that entertains us. When The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew gave us the opportunity to review Wild Cards: Backyard Birds from Birdcage Press, we were pretty excited. In fact, as you can see from the pictures below, when the package came, Melissa sat down immediately, tore it open, and studied the cards for nearly an hour!

What it is: This is a set of 36 full color, sturdy cards and a 32 page fact book. There are 18 different birds identified on the cards, 3 each in 6 different categories:
  1. Tricksters
  2. Songbirds
  3. Woodpeckers
  4. Hummers
  5. Little Chirpers
  6. Waterbirds 
Each card contains an interesting fact about its bird. (Even the matching pair has 2 separate unique facts). At the bottom of each card, the other 2 birds in that category are named, so that the children learn to quickly identify and organize the birds together by type.

About the factbook:  The factbook teaches clues about identifying the birds, where they live, how and what they eat, their migration patterns, and field markings. There is a detailed page about each bird contained in the set of cards.

How we used the cards: My children actually loved just sitting and looking through the cards, reading the facts off of them, and grouping them together by category, comparing the facts and the pictures. As you can see from the pictures, the cards are lovely and bright. Any child would be quickly drawn to looking at them and studying them. The cards are sold as educational games, though, so we did take them out and play the games as well!

There are three suggested games, and we tried all three:
  1. "Old Trickster" is played just like "Old Maid" but with the bird cards instead. There is one card (a magpie - part of the "trickster" category of birds) that is left out of the pile, and then players draw cards from each other, laying their matches down, until one player is left holding the remaining magpie card.
  2. "Bird Memory" is played just like "Concentration". After laying all the cards face down on the table, players try to make matches until all the cards are gone.
  3. "Go Fish for Birds" is a game where the players ask each other for the birds that go together in categories. When the player has collected all 3 birds in one category, they can lay that down as a set. *This was the favorite game of most of the members of our family, because they liked collecting the entire set of birds!

The cards are meant for: The website suggests ages 6 and up. I have to confess that I enjoyed these cards greatly, probably just as much as my children did. I think a bird lover of any age would enjoy these cards.

Why I think these cards are a success: It is such a quick and easy way to learn to identify the birds we see and to know more about them. The birds included in the set are common ones frequently seen around North America, so the children are actually able to observe the birds they are learning about! Since we already spend a good deal of our summer watching the birds in our backyard, it is nice to "put names to their faces" and know a little something about their habits. The girls took great pleasure in informing me that a 'white-breasted nuthatch' was feeding at our feeder!

Other uses: We have come up with several other ways we could use the cards to further our knowledge, including "name that bird" where one person reads a fact on the card, and the other names the bird it described. It has also made the girls more aware of what feeds we should put out to attract a variety of birds. Because of the descriptions of flight patterns in the factbook, the girls have started to be able to identify some of the birds that they cannot even see up close, just by watching them fly!

These are some pictures we took right outside our window!

How to purchase: The card games can be purchased at the Birdcage Press website. This particular card game is $10.95. Birdcage Press also has many other card games available. Besides birds, there are a number of other Wildlife & Nature card sets, as well as card sets in Art,  Air & Space, and History.

Final endorsement: I really like bright and cheery games that my children enjoy using and playing repeatedly, but I LOVE when those games are educational and they are absorbing all kinds of knowledge without even realizing it! I think this game is an incredible value for its price, and it is sturdy enough to last a long time and receive a lot of love and attention from our family. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks so, because this card game recently won the "Parent's Choice Silver Award."

Oops! It's not just birds feeding at the backyard bird feeder!

Crew members reviewed several different games from Birdcage Press, so stop by their reviews to check out what else is available!

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