Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk!
The following is a guest post written by Sara Tedrick Parikh.
Matching memory games are a rite of passage for pre-schoolers, and Adventerra Games has hands-down the cutest one I’ve seen on the market. Seriously, I considered just linking directly to their website shop with a “d’awwww!” caption and calling it a day, but I decided to push through with a full review.
How to Play
In Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk!, players take turns flipping tiles looking for matched endangered animal pairs. For each pair, one tile shows a baby animal alone, and the matching tile shows the baby with a grown-up animal.
Lay out all 32 tiles randomly in a grid, with the animal images facing down. On your turn, flip two tiles. If they match, hurray! Remove them from the grid. Keep your pairs if you’re keeping score, put them back in the box if not. If the tiles don’t match, flip them back over.
In my Hungry Bins review, I talked about Adventerra’s environmentally friendly packaging. The components are all cardboard. The tiles are chunky and will hold up to much handling, even by young kids. I was frustrated (and my toddler quite frustrated) that the box is not quite square. There is also a lot of empty space in the box.
I adore the art in this game. All animals featured are at risk of extinction, and it is sobering to reflect on how beloved many of these animals are. It reminds me of my child’s jungle-themed nursery, and of our favorite board books from those early bedtimes.
I also like that they show the baby and grown-up animals together on the matching tile. This is less confusing than just having players pair a baby and a grown-up. It was easy to tell the animals apart, and their backgrounds communicate key information about their habitats well.
The animals are not gender coded, such as with eyelashes, lipstick, or neckties. I was disappointed that the game materials specifically refer to “mothers and babies.” That makes sense scientifically, but I’d prefer more neutral terms like parents or grown-ups.
Age Ranges and Scaling
It’s difficult to find games rated for two and up, so Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk! offers something for the youngest gamers. The tiles are much too large to swallow, and should be fairly easy for small hands to manipulate. Although my kiddo did not test them (thankfully), they could probably hold up to a bit of mouthing and slobber.
The youngest players will find plenty of challenge in flipping tiles, evaluating matches, and following any kind of structure for a game. Or, like my kiddo, game materials can just be fun play things. He had absolutely no interest in matching when I first received the game but played with the tiles. For now having my kid associate “game box” with “magic inside” is good enough.
When your child is ready for matching, I recommend starting with just a few pairs, then working your way up to the full 16 pairs as your child’s ability and attention span grow.
Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk! can also be a jumping-off point for other types of play. In addition to memory games, Adventerra Games’s website features three other ways to play. I’m absolutely charmed by their “Mime of the Animals” game, which is Baby’s First Charades. Players spread the baby animals out on the table then draw from the baby-and-grown-up tiles and act out the animal shown. It’s easier to guess because you have all the options in front of you.
Did I mention how cute the art was? Of all the memory games I’ve seen, this is far and away my favorite. I would use prints of these cards to decorate my kid’s room.
In matching games, the task isn’t defined enough to keep my child’s interest, but I still like games that have a clearly defined end point. When the tiles are gone, you stop. Unless you’re keeping score, the tiles go back in the box as you match them, and I love a game that cleans up after itself.
This game would work great at bedtime. The tiles are distinct enough to play in low light, and clean-up is virtually no time at all. You could even pair it with bedtime book favorites like Giraffes Can’t Dance or If Animals Kissed Goodnight.
Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk! has a satisfying children’s theme of matching adorable baby and grown-up animals. You can easily include educational discussions of habitats and encourage children to learn more about their favorite animals.
However, Adventerra Games is clear their goal is to teach children about the importance of protecting endangered animals. Perhaps because this theme is deeply meaningful to me, I have no idea how to talk about it with my child, who just turned three years old. I am also concerned he will feel sad for the babies who are apart from their grown-ups, especially because he struggles with separation anxiety.
I wish there was more guidance on how to mention and manage it in a developmentally appropriate way. It would also be much easier to have info on habitat, food, etc. all in one place. But Adventerra is working on putting together parent resources that will hopefully do this.
The tiles store in a smaller bag or box for maximum portability; you could even split them into two decks to increase options. It’s a great on-the-go game for anywhere with a table. Even with all the tiles, there’s still room in my “out and about bags” for crayons and other small toys.
Adventerra Games has an upcoming Ecologic Memory title called Eating in Season. This game features the same adorable art style, but with vegetables and fruits. The backgrounds show the season that is best for eating each food.
Even though my kid usually refuses to play memory games, I’m still tempted to buy this version when it’s released. I don’t know much about eating in season and have honestly learned things just from Eating in Season’s shop listing! This bedtime game might help me finally convince my kid that we can only buy watermelon in the summer.
Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk! is the cutest take I’ve seen on classic memory matching, and even if my kid never takes to basic memory games, I’m glad to have this title on our shelf. The tiles are detailed and engaging enough to spark conversations about animals and habitats.
However, I’d love to see additional materials to help parents introduce larger (and scary and sad) issues of ecology such as endangered species with young children. Although I’m on board with the mission, I’m not sure where to start.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Ecologic Memory: Animals at Risk! from Adventerra Games USA for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Ecologic Memory: Animals At Risk!
Number of Players: 1-4
Age Range: 2+
Playtime: 5-20 Minutes