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January 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 1
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TastyTalk and PetTalk Spur Fun Family Conversations

Reviewers Chat It Up Over Cards About Food and Pets


“Now I know about grandpa’s pets when he was a little boy.” Alexander (9)
This month, TDmonthly Magazine’s Grade School Roundtable families got talking with two TableTalk Conversation Card games. TastyTalk and PetTalk, from U.S. Games Systems, encouraged all sorts of conversation among participants. The reviewers found the cards easy to use, with a side dish of family entertainment and education, and family fun ensued.

TastyTalk and PetTalk Conversation Cards for the Entire Family by U.S. GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.
Age: 5 and Up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Card Games
MSRP: $6.00

TDmonthly rating:


What It Is: TableTalk is a series of conversation cards with each deck focusing on a different theme. Each of the 51 cards features a tidbit of information (ranging from history to cultures around the world, for example) and a related open-ended question. Colorful graphics and coated cards ensure cards that are both eye-catching and durable. One TastyTalk card explains that asparagus was highly regarded by Roman emperors (“What seasonal food do you eagerly wait for all year?”). And a PetTalk card compares dogs’ vision and sense of smell to that of humans and asks: “If you could have one highly developed sense, which one would you choose and why? Other decks feature themes of art, science, sports, music and travel.

What the Moms Thought: Flamenco and Richardson appreciated the simple directions and that once the box is open, play can begin immediately. Richardson thought each deck was “clever in terms of providing an interesting piece of background information and/or useful fact that one had not considered before, and then a related question,” she explained.

Zuidema liked that the compact size made the decks portable; her family most enjoyed the decks during long car trips. Ledford noticed that each card fit nicely into small hands. Flamenco observed, “The kids could play at any time without much adult supervision.”

The language on the cards was simple enough for a 7-year-old to read, a quality that was welcomed by Flamenco and Richardson. Ledford found the cards appealed to all ages at her house: “Even 4-year-old Griff was able to ‘play’ this game since he can answer questions and relates to both topics of food and pets,” she said.

All of the moms liked the colorful, eye-catching graphics on the cards and packaging. Richardson and Tong praised the cards’ durability (“despite being played with dirty hands,” Richardson added).

What the Kids Thought: Jonathan (10) enjoyed learning while having fun. Emilio (9) found the information on the cards interesting. “Brandon (7) liked that he could practice his reading because the stories were not very long,” Flamenco observed.

Jessica (7) shared information she learned from TastyTalk with a friend the next day. At the Tong household, the kids enjoyed the “humorous facts.” Alyssa (10) rushed through the deck and preferred speedy replies from her parents.

“Victoria (14) and Mom both agreed that chocolate is one food worth its weight in gold, as were peppercorns in the Middle Ages,” noted Ledford.

What the Kids Learned from this Toy: “I like how it encouraged engagement and learning — traits which would be appreciated by our friends as well,” said Richardson. Zuidema observed that Alyssa (10) learned “to be a bit reflective and to give a moment’s thought before speaking.”

Flamenco reported that her sons learned about food in other cultures, such as fried grasshoppers in Thailand. “I think they became more aware about pets and how they relate to humans,” she said of PetTalk.

“We all learned a lot about each other,” commented Richardson. Alexander (9) said, “Now I know about grandpa’s pets when he was a little boy and I did not know that before.”

The Ledford children also enjoyed hearing about pets from Mom’s past, as well as pets their friends have. “It was a nice trip down memory lane,” Ledford said. Also, “Griff (4) worked on not interrupting others, and the rest of us were reminded to listen patiently to Griff.”

How to Improve It: Flamenco would like to see either a board game or electronic version. Tong thought some of the words used in TastyTalk were too advanced for her children. “Fortunately, most cards in the TastyTalk only contained one or two ‘big words,’ which is fine since it helps expand their vocabulary,” she explained.

Tong also recommended changing “Fun game, no rules!” to “Fun questions, no rules!” or “Cool facts, fun questions!” This would lessen the confusion several children had over how to win the game. She observed, too, that the cards have little ‘repeat play’ attraction.

Ledford thought a drawstring bag or hard case would keep the cards together better than the box.

Would You Want Another Toy Like This? “Joe (10) is especially interested in the Baseball and Football Talk versions, while Victoria (10) would like to explore the Music Talk version,” Ledford reported.

Roundtable participants are substitute teacher Veronica Flamenco with Matthew (13), Jonathan (11), Emilio (9), and Brandon (7); stay-at-home parent Mildred Tong with Alyssa (10), Ethan (8), Lexi (6) and Eric (3); homeschool parent Jill Zuidema with Alyssa (9); Susan Ledford, editor of the "Homeschool Resources Directory for SC,” with Joe (9) and Griff (3); and World Bank policy advisor Gail Richardson with Alexander (9) and Jessica (7).



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Susan LedfordWriter's Bio: Susan Ledford is the writer, editor and publisher of the "Homeschool Resources Directory for S.C."  She has been evaluating toys and games for TDmonthly's Roundtable reviews since 2005. She also is a homeschool veteran of seven years. Read more articles by this author

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