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The Catholic Home Educator

  The new game, Discover America, consists of a sturdy gameboard, smaller but equally sturdy "state selector", game money, playing pieces, Sorry and Lucky cards, dry-erase marker and eraser. I found the materials to be of good quality -made to last. The "Answer Map" of the U.S. is printed on a regular notebook weight sheet of paper, a stark contrast to the gameboard and state spinner. As you refer to this U.S. map throughout the game, it gets handled quite a bit. It would last a lot longer if it were printed on the same cardboard stock as the other 2 boards. Since it isn't, I'd recommend laminating or covering it with contact paper before the first game.

Directions and Rules
  The basic idea is to work your way around the gameboard by answering questions about U. S. states and history. Occasionally you're thrown a curve
with a "Sorry" or "Lucky" card. As simple as that sounds, I found the directions to be wordy and a little unclear. (I think we're now playing the game as directed). The state capital spinner makes the assumption that at least one player knows all the state postal abbreviations (AL, CT, MN, etc.). The children could play more easily on their own if each state was spelled out followed by the abbreviation.

  What will a child learn while playing this game? Historical people, places and dates, as well as interesting American trivia are all covered. From the Catholic viewpoint, contributions of the Church to the U.S. aren't touched at all  (unless you count a couple of Kennedy references, When is St. Nicholas Day?, and What game is popular in the churches of America?).
  Some questions ask you to name a certain song and sing a verse, but none of the words (the answers to the questions) are included with the game.  Unless an adult is playing, this is almost certainly a problem. For example, one of the songs is "Ol' Man River", Stephen Foster's version.  Being a fan of musicals, I know the Rodgers and Hammerstein Showboat version, but not the Stephen Foster. I expect that others would have similar problems.
  Some of the questions make me wonder what part of America is being discovered. For example: Name the pig on "Green Acres"?; Which cigarette would smokers walk a mile for?; Where did Bob Dylan graduate from high school?; Which U.S. city was first to brew Budweiser beer?; What was Elvis Presley's middle name?; Where is the well-known Bourbon Street?; and so on. None of these are offensive to me, but in the interest of my children's education, I'd delete those kinds of questions from the game and replace them with questions about our Catholic American heritage, which would be easy to do and would make the game more useful to us without distracting from the fun.
  Unless your younger elementary student is really sharp or other players are willing to help them, I'd save this game at least until middle elementary grades to avoid a lot of frustration for you and your child. It is suggested for ages 9 to 93.

Family Response
  All of my criticisms aside, does the family enjoy playing this game? More specifically, do the children like it enough that, on their own, they'd pull this game out to play? A resounding "yes", as evidenced recently when cousins were over for the day.  This is a game that will easily give us our money's worth. It will stay in our house!

The Catholic Home Educator
Rose Metzger