SNAP Review – My Very First Games: Animal Upon Animal Junior
HABA’s Animal Upon Animal is a modern classic of children’s games. But the pieces are still fairly small; this game is not really appropriate for toddlers – until now!
This is a SNAP review for My Very First Games: Animal Upon Animal Junior.
Just like the “big kid” version of Animal Upon Animal, this version is also designed by Klaus Miltenberger and published by HABA. But right away you’ll notice some differences, that make it rated for ages TWO and up.
So let’s start by talking about the most obvious thing – the art in this game.
The animals here are chunky and inviting. Even the crab and the snake look friendly! There are also large cardboard pieces for a “raft” and a “meadow”, and big chunky cardboard tokens with a sun and an animal on each of them.
Everything is big and easy for little hands to grab and stack. And who wouldn’t want to roll this gigantic die?
Just like HABA’s other My Very First Games, the rule book suggests lots of different ways to play, starting with letting your toddler freely play with the pieces, maybe naming what some animals are and trying to fit them together in different ways. Once they’re ready for more structure, there are 3 different games to play:
In “Stacking Animal Tower”, kids flip a sun tile, then take the matching animal and add it to the stack on the MEADOW. If something falls, put the sun tile in the box, but if the stack holds, keep the sun tile. The goal of the game: who can collect the most sun tiles?
The second game mode is called “Colorful Raft Stack”. In this one, you get to roll the big chunky die! If it lands on green, pick an animal and place it (or stack it) in the meadow. If you get blue, your chosen animal goes to the raft on the waterhole. And if you roll the sun, you can put an animal on either the meadow stack or the waterhole stack – your choice!
As with the other game mode, take a sun tile if no animals fell down, and whoever has the most sun tiles at the end of the game wins.
The third game is cooperative, “Race Carl the Crab”. In this mode, you lay out the sun tiles as a path. Again, blue means stack on the raft and green means stack on the meadow. But every time you roll the sun, Carl moves along the path. Can you work together to get all the animals stacked before Carl reaches the shoreline?
Of course, you could also try combining these big chunky pieces with other Animal Upon Animal sets, when your child is ready.
What did we expect in Animal Upon Animal Junior?
[Elliot] I expected it to be like the other Junior HABA games – the My Very First Games – where it’s like the original game, just the pieces are bigger, so it’s easier for littler kids.
[Anitra] I was thinking that Animal Upon Animal is already a good game for young kids (I agree!) The box says 4+ but I’ve played with 3 year olds. Could a My Very First version bring it to an even younger audience?
What surprised us about this game, Mom?
I played this with three helpers: a not-quite-2-year-old, a just-turned-4-year-old, and also with Elliot.
Our youngest player had a great time with the tokens and with the animals, just stacking and exploring with them. The preschooler loved stacking the animals and knocking them down (you may remember his flavor of help from our Rhino Hero Junior review).
But I was really surprised, that you (Elliot), who are 8 years old, enjoyed playing this game!
[Elliot] Yeah, I was surprised, too.
I think because it feels a little bit more game-like than the other My Very First Games we’ve reviewed (we did Off to Bed! and Rhino Hero Junior, both of them last year). This game is a little too easy for a big kid like Elliot, but…
[Elliot] I prefer this to the normal Animal Upon Animal, because the normal Animal Upon Animal is REALLY hard!
There you have it. Sometimes you want an easy game to play.
Do we recommend Animal Upon Animal Junior?
A few years ago, our friend Chrissy wrote about how Animal Upon Animal teaches physics; kids will start to place an animal, then stop and think about other ways to place it that might work better. That’s true here as well – even with the littlest players of 2 or below.
I thought it was the type of game that would be quickly outgrown, but Elliot is showing me otherwise. Animal Upon Animal Junior keeps the DNA of its big brother without dumbing the game down or making it less fun.
I think this would be a great first game for toddlers, and they might surprise you by coming back to it even once they’ve graduated to “big kid” games like Elliot has. I highly recommend it.
We’re going to rate Animal Upon Animal Junior 5 out of 5 animals.
The Family Gamers received a copy of My Very First Games: Animal Upon Animal Junior from HABA USA for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
My Very First Games: Animal Upon Animal Junior
Age Range: 2+
Number of Players: 1+
Playtime: 5 minutes