Why My Family Loves The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game for Preschoolers
It was love at first sight. My little girl, almost 4 years old, ripped open the wrapping paper to reveal the cutest box she'd ever seen. "It's a TREE, Mommy, and there's a SQUIRREL on it! What is IN here?"
Maybe her excitement to open the box had at least a little to do with thinking that there just might be a live squirrel inside. However, there was enough actually inside the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game to immediately capture her attention. The brightly colored acorns were close enough (in a preschooler's mind at least) to ones she'd seen outside for her to ask if they were real.
I have to say, I had a lot of fun watching her getting a feel for all the contents of the game box. I don't know many preschoolers who don't like squirrels, or at least get a slight kick out of observing their antics. When we explained the premise of Sneaky Snacky Squirrel to our daughter, she caught on pretty quickly because she'd seen so many squirrels gathering acorns in our back yard.
So what is the main idea of Sneaky Snacky Squirrel (SSS)? Helping a squirrel gather acorns for the winter, of course. Each spin of the spinner either gets your squirrel more acorns, makes you wait for the next turn, or if you're really unlucky, blows them all away with a pretend storm. The 'sneaky' part, where a player can take another player's acorn, was on one hand the most satisfying for our daughter when she got to steal an acorn, and on the other, provided the most opportunity for teachable moments about being a good sport when her acorn was nabbed.
So what else makes this game worth adding to your preschooler's collection? It's in my family's pantheon of truly beloved, extremely playable games and here are just a few of the reasons why:
- Quick play - while a player can get all their acorns blown away by the wind and have to start over, it's usually not an overly long game. Perfect for the attention spans of 3 to 5 year olds, and easy to play again when requested. You'll probably hear "Can we play again?" a lot. Trust me.
- Age-appropriate skills - Color matching, basic counting, turn-taking and coordination are some of the main skills Sneaky Snacky Squirrel incorporates seamlessly into game play. One of the more unique qualities of SSS is the opportunity to introduce your child to game strategy. When your child has the chance to choose the color of acorn to put in his or her log, will they choose colors that other players already have? If so, they will see that it is harder for their acorns to be stolen, but there's also less likelihood of adding a different color acorn to their collection from other people's logs. Some kids figure this out on their own, while some latch onto strategic acorn picking after an adult has shown them what to do. It's fascinating to see whether your child prefers to play it safe, or chooses a higher risk-to-reward ratio.
- The acorns - They're just the right size for kids to want to collect, AKA they are the size of real acorns. The acorns in the game are easily manipulated by small hands, and are a satisfyingly semi-rubbery texture that just begs to be held and played with
- Straightforward rules and game play - My family liked how clear the directions were and that there was no reading or huge amounts of counting involved. It's perfect for one of a child's very first games. Don't get me wrong, we definitely encouraged learning to count in our family, but this game's limit of numbers to 2 gave our daughter the confidence to do her turn without help. No one had to help her count spaces on a game board, and to find out how many more acorns she needed, she just stuck her finger in each hole in the tree stump and counted with us.
- The squirrel squeezer - At first blush, the plastic squirrel with tweezer-like paw action seems to serve as nothing more than the game's namesake...at least to adults. I admit, I had the following thought: "It's totally easy to pick up an acorn by yourself, so why use a squirrel? Just makes the game take longer." Before you give up on the squirrel, let me share three words with you: Fine Motor Skills. That's right. The pinching motion used to make the squirrels paws grab and hold onto an acorn uses exactly the same muscle group children use for correct pencil grip. When my daughter was having trouble with holding a pencil, her teacher suggested this pinching motion to develop her coordination and small motor skills. A week of Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel marathons and her pencil grip had vastly improved. We had loads of fun and no nagging. :)
- The squirrel squeezer part 2 - The cute little squirrel also provides another outlet for pretend play. My daughter gave our squirrel squeezer several names over time...SneakySnacky, Nutkin, and Squirrely being the most memorable to me. She loved having it scamper over to the tree and she made up stories about which color of acorns were its favorites.
More members of my family's 'favorite preschool games of all time' collection.
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We're not the only ones who love Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.
A little more detail about game strategy and the ins and outs of playing.
A mom and her son review the game and explain how it's played. I like how the little boy demonstrates each of the special spaces.
A really thorough and concise overview of the object of the game and game play.