Friday, April 4, 2014

Cooties Revisited - Simplified Rules for Sanity

What is it with those classic childhood Milton Bradley games? They're terrible! Seriously, what's more frustrating than setting up "Hi-Ho Cherry-O," trying to hammer out those pieces in "Don't Break the Ice," or roll all those sixes in "Cooties?" And "Don't Spill the Beans?" Arrgh!
Honestly, I don't think I liked these games when I Was a kid, even though we had them all.  As an adult, I shudder and try every avoidance tactic I know when the kids ask for one.  "Oh, you want to play Hi-Ho Cherry-O? Well... uh... Hey, look! Ice Cream!"
Well, I think I can at least help you with "Cooties." My almost 5-year-old was so excited when he found the game at a garage sale this morning that I just didn't have the heart to refuse him the opportunity to spend two of his hard-earned quarters on it.

But I did have a brainstorm to make it less tedious.  All I did was add a second die. (We rolled both inside a small, clear Rubbermaid container to avoid spills.)  Whenever Either die showed a number the kid needed to complete his or her bug, it could be claimed. Moreover, whenever the dice added up to a number they needed, it too could be claimed. (Hey, look, a subtle insertion of some basic addition practice!) Obviously, the latter mostly came into play on the sixes. But then, when have you ever played a game of Cooties where everyone wasn't sitting there waiting for sixes?

One more little change: the official rules allow a player to continue rolling until he or she rolls something that cannot be used. Neither kid really understood this, so I just arbitrarily limited the extra rolls to 1. I think they'd have been just as happy had there been no extras at all, since the surprisingly non-trivial task of actually plugging in the acquired body part immediately consumed all of their attention.

These modifications allowed us to complete the game with two players in about 10 minutes, which is a good match for their attention spans at this age.  I highly recommend it for your sanity and your kids'!

If you find this post helpful, you may also be interested in my modifications to Hi-Ho Cherry-O, or our homemade customizable game board system for making your own games, plus a bunch of ideas of things to play using it.

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