My hand is hovering closely above the black handle. My eyes lock with his. My heart pounds in anticipation. I know he’s going down. I’ll be the winner and I’ll get to say HaHa. I won! It’s go time, my hand pounds furiously and the hippos are at war. We laugh, my brother and I, because we’re not really that competitive. Me laughing in pigtails with a corduroy jumpsuit and my brother laughing in polyester brown pants, with the game sitting on multicolored shag carpeting. This is just fun.
The defining noise of loud slapping plastic. High pitched laughing. At least this time its better clothing and cream normal carpeting. It’s not as great as I once thought it was but I do believe my boys are feeling those same things that I did as a kid. So I try to endure the racket knowing that they are having a ball learning. Learning!!? you say. Why yes, learning. When kids are playing these classics games it doesn’t seem like learning to them but they are. In Hungry, Hungry Hippo, my boys are learning about how to play fair. I have to do a lot of “no cheating!” and moving hands back from holding their hippo head open while throwing the balls inside. They are just at the beginning of understanding that there is a winner and a loser but they don’t focus on that yet. They are practicing hand/eye coordination with gusto. They are practicing their colors when we each announce the color of our chosen hippo for that round. They are also learning to count. I really love this game because when all the balls are gobbled up, the boys have to take their balls and count them. We count them one at a time for each boy. Our counting is spot on until we get to 13, then it gets a bit funny. Without all the stress and humiliation of counting at the table with all eyes on them, they work on counting just to see how many they got. Then they have to count five balls back into the holding tray before the next game begins.
Some people may scoff at this type of learning, but I on the other hand think this is some of the best learning a preschooler can get. It’s not forced, it’s casual and man is it fun. This is a must have learning game in my book. This is also a must have game for any family that wants to hear lots of laughter too.
To give a real perspective on this game, I have to say that all the above is true. Last night however while playing the game, I stepped away for a minute. I came back to one hippo torn off the board, but it does snap back on, though I didn’t tell my boys that last night and all the little white balls flung to the farthest reaches of the downstairs. My husband even found a little ball this morning. So the game has been put in time out for a few days to help them with one more thing to learn, that we don’t tear up our toys. That, my friend, completes this story of learning.