For those of us who struggled to memorize our state capitals in grade school, "geography" and "fun" are two words we might not put together in one sentence. After trying out Gamewright's card game The Scrambled States of America (starting at $12.50, Amazon), our 8-year-old toy tester felt differently. Her Scrambled States of America review turned up a winner.
This family-friendly game has players rush to collect as many state cards as they can by matching them up with "scramble" cards. Scramble cards may offer hints ranging from "State starts with a vowel" to "Capital has a person's first name hidden in it." Players can also win state cards by pairing them up with their closest neighbor state in "Going the Distance" rounds. To help even the playing field, each participant is given a map to guide them. While the manufacturer recommends this game for 8- to 12-year-olds, our tester's mom and dad enjoyed it just as much as their 8- and 10-year-old daughters did. Maybe more so, because they were delighted by its educational value.
Despite being rated for an older age group, Scrambled States of America reviews posted on Barnes & Noble say kids as young as 5, and sometimes younger, can play along with a little help from an adult or older child. One review on Epinions recommends making some minor changes to the rules to make the game more fun for little kids, while another review on Amazon suggests setting stricter rules to make it more challenging for teens. Although minor complaints pop up in reviews -- one heavy user wishes the paper maps were laminated to prevent ripping, and some could do without the sprinkling of non-geography questions -- most users loudly sing the praises of this game. A teacher's review on Amazon echoes that of several commenters who say kids not only love playing The Scrambled States of America, they have exponentially increased their knowledge of U.S. geography as a result.
For around $12, Scrambled States of America pleases a variety of age groups, travels well, and makes learning fun. Based on our experiences with our child toy tester, if family game night is your thing, this one is worth throwing into the mix.