Games We Play: Snail’s Pace Race



I came up with the (perhaps preposterous) idea the other day to challenge the whole family to play every game in the game closet at least once before the end of winter (okay, maybe spring).  As soon as I came up with this idea, I realized it was probably virtually impossible, so I amended the challenge to at least two people play each game. Of course, all six of us playing every game would be awesome, but everyone has different schedules and many folks around here have very definite opinions about what games they will and will not play. So the object is just for someone to play the game.

We have quite the game closet, so this will be quite the challenge.  I am thinking this will also be a great opportunity to clean out the game closet ~ if everyone flat out refuses to play a game, I’ll know that game isn’t popular (I’m looking at you Monopoly!). We have quite a few games in there I think the kids have probably outgrown and some that some of them have never really tried, so I think this will be a good opportunity to review the collection.  I plan to post about most games here on the blog ~ not a long post, just a quick little review and some thoughts on each game. For the record, my kids are ages 17, 15, 12, and 9.


Okay, on to our first game…Snail’s Pace Race!


We have had this game in our closet for as long as I can remember. It was one of the first games that any of the kids learned to play. The recommended ages are 3-7, so obviously all of mine are above that age! This isn’t a game that comes out much anymore, but it was on the top shelf of the closet which was where we had decided to start our challenge, so we gave it a whirl. Snail’s Pace Race is great for beginning gamers, because it isn’t very competitive. First, everyone guesses which snail they think will come in first and which snail they think will come in last. Hint: write down everyone’s guesses so you don’t forget! As a variation,  we have also had everyone guess the order that all the snails will come in (1-red, 2-pink, 3-orange, etc).

To play, everyone takes turns rolling the colored dice and moving the snails accordingly. A pink and red roll means the pink snail and the red snail both get to advance one space. The snail who gets to its matching leaf first is the winner! If anyone predicted that snail would win, they also win. Play continues until the last snail is home and whoever guessed the correct last snail is also a winner.  What is nice here is that multiple people can win. Plus, it’s really the snails playing, not the people, so if you have some kiddos that tend to get a bit upset if they lose (we of course know nothing about that here, ahem) this is a great game.

How long it takes: Snail’s Pace Race takes around ten minutes to play.  To extend it, we created a house rule that once all the snails get to their leaf they have to return to their home space, having another race on the way.

Who can play: Ages 3+ and up to 6 players. Kids can even play by themselves. There is no reading required. Like I said earlier, my bunch is definitely on the older side for this game but they still had fun with it when I broke it out. I will say there was more of a “horse-race” atmosphere going on than I remember from when they were preschoolers, though!  I turned down several suggestions that we bet money on the snails.

What it teaches: This is a great game to introduce the concept of playing a game and taking turns in a low-key way. For the really littles, it also teaches color matching and basic counting, because they’ll want to know how many more spaces “their” snail needs to go.

What I love about it: The wooden snail pieces are so cute, colorful, and sturdy! This is a game I will be holding onto for future generations; it has held up remarkably well after years of use.

Reviewing a Game: Spot It!

I have been working on tweaking my summer car bag this week. I already had most of what I needed, but I added a snazzy new picnic blanket I found at Target and a few new games. One day, when we had time in between one kid’s practice and another, I told the kids that instead of running yet another errand we were going to go the park, set the blanket down in the shade, and play a game. They were thrilled, and we decided to make games-on-a-blanket a regular thing.

I have been feeling a little bummed that summer has been going by at warp speed and my kids are so busy with practices, camps, and other things that there isn’t much time for the lake or the pool. But games outside feels summery too, and it is actually do-able with our crazy schedule.

Spot It!

This week we are playing a new to us game – Spot It!, which I purchased earlier this summer.  I love that it is inexpensive, versatile, and easy to transport. 
Look at the cute little tin it comes in! All the cards (55 of them) and directions fit right inside. Round cards, how cool is that?

How to Play

There are many variations of this game, which makes it fun. They all involve matching a shape on your card to another card as quickly as you can. The shapes are the same color, but not the same size. This is deceptively difficult! We only tried the first three variations but we’re looking forward to trying the rest. In the first variation, called The Tower, everyone starts with one card. You put the rest of the cards in the center for a draw pile. 

Then you flip over the top card in the draw pile.

And try to match a shape on it to a shape on your own card, before someone else does.

In this case you would want to yell “candle!”, because both your card and the draw pile card have a purple candle. If you call out your card first, you keep the card from the draw pile. This game really makes your brain work! Whoever gets the most cards wins.
Spot It! is an awesome brain training game, helping to build visual skills, attention span, and memory. The manufacturer calls it “a game of visual perception” Younger kids would also learn some vocabulary and simple reading skills from this game. It is one of those rare games that really feels perfect for all ages. And age isn’t necessarily an advantage either….I lost every time the first day I played against my kids. And I was trying!

There are a total of five game variations in Spot It! We also played The Well, in which one card is placed in the middle of the blanket and all other cards are dealt out. Each player flips their cards right side up in front of them. 

When the center card gets flipped up everybody tries to match one of the shapes on any of their cards to the card in “the well”. This gets a bit frenetic! The matched cards get placed on top of the center card, and the object is to get rid of your cards first.

We haven’t played the other three variations,  like The Hot Potato and The Poisoned Gift yet. My kiddos liked the first two variations so much we haven’t yet made it to the rest. But I am sure we will. I played this game once with four people and once with two, and lower numbers of people definitely make it easier.

Game Summary
  • Recommended ages: 7+ according to the manufacturer.  A younger kid could definitely play, but might get frustrated, depending on who they played with. 
  • Number of Players: 2-8 
  • Time to Play: 5-15 minutes, depending on which variation you play and how fast you are.
  • Perfect for: Keeping in the car to pull out at the beach, park, etc. Fun on the go! 

That was fun! I noticed they also have a camping version of Spot It! which is now on my wish list.