As many parents know, one of the challenges of gaming with children is finding options that can be engaging for each little person’s stage of development. In previous articles from this series, games such as Cudaki and Harry Hopper are a great fit for my older daughter (Big Bean, closing in on 4 years old), but has a barrier to entry for the Little Bean (nearly 2 years old).
Fortunately, games do exist to tickle both their little brains in just the right way! Bunny Bedtime: The Make-a-Choice Game is published by Peaceable Kingdom, with a design by Shanon Lyon and Marisa Peña. The game is recommended for ages 2 and up, and plays is 10 minutes or less.
Bunny Bedtime is all about getting the heroine of our story ready for a good night’s sleep by running through her routine of activities, such as having a bath, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story. At each step, a choice is made (will I play in the bath with my rubber ducky or the sailboat?), and a wooden piece displaying that choice is placed into a matching cutout on the board. Moving from the left side of the board to the right, before tucking bunny into bed with her teddy bear for a long snuggly sleep.
Each turn begins by having the child roll a large, chunky die, and moving the bunny to the matching colour along the track at the bottom of the board. Matching colours in the main purpose of this action, but there’s also the added benefit of learning how to roll a die, which is a surprisingly difficult task to master. Figuring out how to shake the cube in your hands, and releasing it so that it doesn’t wind up under the couch takes a bit more practice than I would have expected!
As this is a collaborative experience between the parent and child (or in our case, letting Big Bean guide Little Bean through the routine), it allows for storytelling and communication, in addition to the experience of telling that story from the left side of the board to right, which will come in handy when when we snuggle up with a pile of books.
After a couple of plays through Bunny Bedtime, our Big Bean started telling her own silly stories, telling us about brushing her teeth with the polka-dot sweater and other silly combinations which would have tore the house down at the toddler comedy club. The game is perfectly suited for a 2 to 3 year old, and while our nearly 4 year old Big Bean enjoyed the game, she clearly was ready to move along to a different experience pretty quickly. On the other hand, Little Bean is keen to keep playing this one, with its broad array of experiences, from the tactile to the roleplaying, and everything in between!
Peaceable Kingdom knows their target audience well, and has produced a game that can withstand plenty of wear and tear. The components are large without being difficult for little hands to manipulate, and the board is beautifully illustrated, including a view of the outside of bunny’s house when folded up to go back into the box. Speaking of which, unlike many other games, the box design isn’t just intended to catch our eyes on store shelves – it also is a reasonable size to store the components once you’ve taken it home.
Unlike other titles we’ve looked at in this series, Bunny Bedtime will be staying on the shelf after the munchkins are sleeping, leaving us big kids to choose other games to play. However, once the littles get their own Bedtime Bunny rest, they’ll be pulling it back out for more play in the morning!
Our giggling gang gives Bunny Bedtime two little thumbs up!