Our Little Bean (just turned two years old) has recently been assigned garbage duty. She’s a great helper with bits of trash, and almost always responds when we task her with taking something to the bin. However, she’s a bit too enthusiastic, and has begun taking random items around the house and placing them in the garbage for us, always followed by a celebratory exclamation of “I DID IT!”
For that reason, there are a few games that are off limits for Little Bean, and we keep those ones stored up high just out of her reach. Big Bean always gets a little bit giddy when Little Bean’s nap comes before her own, because it means she gets to play one of those special off-limit games. One such title is I Spy: Dig In, for reasons that you’ll soon understand!
The game includes a plastic bowl, 12 cards, a 15-second sand timer and … 128 tiny plastic toys! Among these little treasures, players will find vehicles, animals, household items, and even a toilet (no kitchen sink, unfortunately), which all get dumped into the bowl. Each card features 6 six of these little trinkets, with one side including coloured items (each toy comes in red, blue, green, and yellow), and the other side of the card features goodies in grey.
To play the game, each player takes one of the cards, which is their “shopping list” for the round. Timed in 15-second intervals, each player will have an opportunity to dig through the bowl with both hands to find their six target items, which are placed on the card when found. Once everyone has had that first round of frantic digging, everyone will get to plunge one hand back into the bowl for the ALL-IN ROUND (said with bass and echo for full effect!), which has no time limit and is even more stressfully silly! The all-in round keeps going until one player finds their sixth item (even if another player magically found all six items in their 15-second solo round), at which point the round ends. Anyone who completed their card keeps it as a point, and all other cards are discarded. Players are dealt another card to begin the new round, and the 15-second timer turns are once again at hand! The first player to complete three cards wins the game.
Each colourful toy is fairly integral to the game, which is why our garbage pail kiddo is not yet permitted to play. Since we play during Little Bean’s nap time, it’s a special game that brings an extra special sparkle to Big Bean’s eye. Our solo rounds will often involve two or three turns of the sand timer, as we want Big Bean to still have a positive experience each round, and coming up empty-handed after 15 seconds could feel pretty bad. Although the game is intended for competitive play, we have just as much (if not more!) fun helping each other complete one another’s cards, complete with little teasing commentary (“Ah-ha! I see your green guitar! Can you find it?!”).
In addition to playing Dig In with little hands, this game has also proven to be a hit with adults! It makes for a quick, exciting party game, and I’ve pulled it out both as a fun activity to close out a game night, or an amusing way to kick off the night while waiting for latecomers to arrive at the table.
The components in this game are a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality. All of the little toys are well-made and durable, which is the most important element of the game. However, the plastic bowl is a flimsy plastic, and seems one temper tantrum away from destruction, and thus, Little Bean Garbage Duty. The cards could have been a bit thicker, and may not survive for many years, but since they don’t require much shuffling, it’s not a major concern. On the plus side, the cheaper quality components make for an affordable game, which is key to making sure this game finds its way into many homes.
Both for big hands and little hands, I Spy: Dig In is just plain fun to play, possibly more than any other children’s game we own! The tactile element of toy hunting, the timed rounds, the battle royal of rummaging at the end, all make for a game that is a blast for (nearly) all ages.
Little Thumbs and Big Thumbs are all giving I Spy: Dig In two thumbs way up!
I Spy Dig In is a game of children’s game of dexterity and set collection. Plays in 15 minutes, for 2-4 players. Published by Briarpatch, with no credited artists or designers.