Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Art & Intellect for Kids Intersect With This New Twist on the Memory Game

Educational Games

My Triplet Teens Play Hieroglyphs A to Z, A New Memory Card Game from Pomegranate Communications
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Don't Miss the Pomegranate Game 
GIVEAWAY Contest Link Below This Post

Since the 1960s, when the Original Memory Game was first introduced by the Milton Bradley Company -- a brand now under the Hasbro umbrella -- generations of kids have experienced this popular past time published by various companies.  As a Baby Boomer myself, I’d be willing to bet that more often than not, other American kids of my age group also remember playing the original version of this game with their family and friends.

Fast forward to today.  Pomegranate, one of the most respected museum publishers in the world, is successfully marketing a wonderful twist on the classic with the Pomegranate Kids Memory Game line.  Currently there are 4 products in this category – varying widely on subject matter, with more in production and scheduled for release in May.  Yet, all their games have one thing in common: that they are both educational and entertaining.

My kids and I were thrilled to have the opportunity to try not one, but two games from the eclectic Pomegranate Memory Game collection for this review.  Both are pictured here: Hieroglyphs from A to Z and Christopher Marley’s Incredible Insects.
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Like the original concept, the object of each Pomegranate memory game is to turn over pairs of matching cards, with the person ending up with the most pairs as the winner.  Part of the appeal of this sort of card game is that it can be played both with any number of players or alone.  Also, it’s well suited to children as young as 3 years old through adult – making it a wonderful activity for multiple generations to play together.

In addition to playing the standard memory game as described above, you can also play this quite a few different other ways.

A few ideas for game variations
  • Spaghetti: Same rules as the standard memory game, except that cards are not laid out in neat rows.  This makes it much harder to remember which card is where.
  • Match by Color:  Instead of making pairs with two cards that have the same exact image, any two cards that include the same color count as a match.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds because you really need to pay attention to details.
  • Two Decks: For a much longer game, use two boxes of the same set of memory game cards and shuffle them.  Then, play like the card game Go Fish, with the object being to get 4 of a kind.
My Family, Lower Front Corner Foreground
at the British Museum in London last summer
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Before the Pomegranate shipment arrived, I predicted that our kids (triplets, almost 14, and their big brother 15) would probably like the hieroglyphs game better than the insects one.  I based this on the assumption that they’re teens and are already familiar with Egyptian hieroglyphs as well as ancient Native American rock art known as petroglyphs and pictograms, having seen examples of each at museums and/or in National Parks. 

Actually, our family has viewed quite a few fine examples of hieroglyphs, in particular, at such world-class museums as the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the British Museum in London.  In fact, I remember seeing some Pomegranate products in both of these museum gift shops on recent visits.
A Selection of Cards from Hieroglyphs from A to Z Memory Game 
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

The Hieroglyphs A to Z Memory Game ($13.95) includes 52 Egyptian-motif illustrated alphabet cards plus a 40-page booklet.  The latter was quite informative, going into some detail encouraging kids to compare the picture they see on the card with what the actual hieroglyph looks like in the booklet.  This game is based on the best selling book by the same name, authored by Peter Der Manuelian, Ph.D. (Pomegranate 2009).  According to The Harvard Crimson,  Dr. Der Manuelian -- Harvard’s first Egyptology professor in over 60 years – originally grew intrigued by the splendor of ancient Egypt in a fourth grade history class. 

Christopher Marley’s Incredible Insects Memory Game (also $13.95) features 72 cards and a 40-page booklet to go with it.  Working in 36 of designer Marley’s exotic insect photos from his book Pheromone (Pomegranate 2008), it includes the most colorful display of beetles, butterflies, moths, damselflies, weevils, and other bugs I have ever seen in one collection.  According to Marley, who works out of The Pheromone Gallery in Salem, Oregon, pheromones are chemical stimulants that insects in nature release to attract one another.  The story of how the designer's fascination with bugs as his life work began seems amazing, considering how much he feared creepy crawlies as a kid. 

After playing this pair of games and learning more about the great minds that inspired them, I could easily see why intellectually curious kids and adults might enjoy these cultural gems. Clearly, both Pomegranate products improve memory skills, but they also will lead anyone who plays with them to acquire knowledge in a really fun way.  

The other thing I really like as a parent is that both games I reviewed are really ideal for traveling because they are compact and portable.  The rectangular prism-shaped box measures just 4-1/4" x 3" making them a great muse for our family vacations, both road trips and travel abroad.  But when pressed to choose a favorite between the two, the consensus at our house was that Incredible Insects had the greater appeal to us.

Then, I asked why.  Our youngest triplet  – the most articulate of my kids -- says, “I liked Christopher Marley’s game better because the photos of the insects almost seem to come to life since they are so colorful.”

He continues, “Until now, I’d never seen most of these awesome insects, nor did I know that they even existed.  For example, it was so interesting to learn about the Jewel Beetle.  When we looked that one up in the little book that comes in the game's box, I was blown away to find out that there are 15,000 different species of just this one bug that live in such far away places as Indonesia, Australia, and New Guinea.”

“The Walking Leaves bugs also seem almost unreal,” he adds. “It’s hard to believe there’s an insect like that which could easily be mistaken for a leaf!”

I guess my kids are just more interested in things they've had little exposure to -- rather than something they know quite a bit about already.  For sure, Christopher Marley's images have really gotten the kids all excited about entomology (and world geography), inspiring them to seek out more facts about these exotic bugs at both the library and online.

About Pomegranate
Pomegranate Communications is a leading museum publisher, producing fine art, contemporary illustration, and photography in a vast array of high-quality, affordable products.  In addition to the Pomegranate Kids Memory Games collection, offerings include 4,500 other published art and educational items, such as calendars, puzzles, cards, books, posters, and more.  Products may be purchased online direct from Pomegranate; select items are also available elsewhere online and at book, better gift, and museum shops around the world.

FTC Disclosure:  Pomegranate Communications provided the two games in this product review as well as providing the prize for the associated giveaway that links to this post.  MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation related to this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

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