Ecologic Puzzle: Respect the Earth
The following is a guest post written by Sara Tedrick Parikh.
I learned not to leave the fridge door open or throw away uncut plastic drink rings from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If anyone sees a fridge PSA from Baby Shark, please send it my way – my preschooler desperately needs to see it!
In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to teach earth-friendly (and often wallet-friendly) habits through Adventerra Games products.
Adventerra Games has two different Ecologic Puzzles: Respect the Earth and Saving Water. Respect the Earth has a greater variety of conservation issues including some water-related scenes.
Ecologic Puzzle: Respect the Earth comes with 12 two-piece puzzles showing two versions of the same action. The left-side puzzle piece shows an action that is harmful to the earth. These red-edged pieces show things like a kid drinking bottled water with the fridge door hanging open. The right-side, green-edged puzzle piece shows a more earth-friendly approach. The same kid might be drinking water from a cup with the fridge door closed.
The backs of the puzzle pieces all match, so you could add in a memory matching element. When players correctly match tiles the puzzle pieces fit together. Be careful, though, because some pieces will fit together even if the images don’t match.
The components are all cardboard. Just like in Hungry Bins, the game has environmentally friendly packaging, including corn-based shrink wrap and packing boxes with shredded paper. The tiles are comfortably heavy for repeated gentle play. I’m not sure how well the puzzle tabs will hold up to repeated rough play, though.
The art in this game is fairly similar to the style I adored in Animals at Risk! (and the upcoming Eating in Season), but it doesn’t charm me the same way. I prefer the sea animals and settings in the Saving Water version of this puzzle game, but it’s still not quite as gripping for me.
I applaud Adventerra Games’ representation of a racially diverse cast of children with a range of gender expression. There is also some variety of body sizes. I would however also appreciate at least one visible representation of disability and cultural and religious diversity.
Age Ranges and Scaling
Both games are rated for ages 2 and up. However, even at 3½ years old, I’m constantly terrified my kid will rip the puzzle tabs off. Something about this puzzle triggers his chaos!
Even when I cut down the number of pieces to just a few matched pairs, my kid didn’t engage. Unfortunately, this game is not a great fit for him as he quickly loses interest with both matching and puzzles.
One thing that did click was Adventerra Games’s tip to hide puzzle pieces in relevant parts of the house. He loved finding the matching puzzle pieces and wanted to do it again right away! Unfortunately, I could only think of good hiding spots for a few of the puzzles. As my kiddo becomes more familiar with the different puzzles, I might be able to get more creative with hiding spots.
I worry that there is a mismatch between the simple two-piece puzzles and the meaning behind the puzzle scenes. Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with kids who like puzzles, so I could be off the mark here. You could easily turn this into a memory matching game, with the puzzle pieces being a satisfying reward for finding a match. Adding the memory challenge could extend the age range and add a nice twist on memory games.
If you have a kid who is still mouthing everything in sight, don’t worry. These pieces are too big to be swallowed. However, the puzzle piece tabs may be too tempting to resist and may not hold up well to targeted slobber attacks.
Of the three Adventerra Games titles I’ve received, Respect the Earth is the most pointed in its conservation messages. It even includes pro-conversation activities our family doesn’t currently do. Some of these topics were easy to adjust; my kiddo doesn’t take showers yet, but we talked about how we don’t fill the tub all the way for baths. But I didn’t know how to communicate why we don’t do practices such as composting or gardening, even though they are good.
Many of these puzzles do address my current parenting battles, like leaving refrigerators open or wasting water in the bathroom. This game offers a neutral, low-stress place to talk about why we make choices that so easily become power struggles between kids and their grown-ups.
This game is calming and conversational, with a clearly defined end point. Grown-ups can vary the game length by adding a memory matching component or reducing the number of puzzles in play.
I don’t have any specific book pairing suggestions, but if you play Respect the Earth (or Saving Water) before you read, you could point out relevant examples in almost any book. My kid’s current obsession is Please, Mr. Panda, and I could point out that Mr. Panda rows out to the whale instead of taking a motorized boat. Guess How Much I Love You could launch a conversation about how Little Nutbrown Hare sleeps outside, so leaving trash behind after a picnic could be dangerous for him.
Both versions of Ecologic Puzzles (Respect the Earth or Saving Water) allow opportunities to talk about a variety of everyday decisions that affect the world around us. We can use the puzzles as a memory game OR a household hide-and-seek game. My kiddo loved this flexibility!
Of the Adventerra Games I’ve reviewed, this game has the most potential to change habits or reduce friction in existing routines. Some puzzles go beyond my family’s current environmentally friendly practices, which is good in some ways and difficult in others. I’m generally happy with the inclusiveness of the art, but wish it had gone slightly farther. However, this simple game can prompt a lot of early conversations, and you can emphasize the habits that are most important for your family.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Ecologic Puzzle: Respect the Earth 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 Puzzle: Respect the Earth
Number of players: 1+ (best with a grown-up and 1-2 children)
Age range: 2+
Playtime: 10-20 minutes