Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) every November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my 2022 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students.
For someone who lives with three dogs, my Gifts for the Gifted selections might seem strangely cat-centric this year, but it’s just a coincidence that I discovered two extremely cute feline games within a few weeks of each other. If you haven’t seen my review of Cats & Boxes, I strongly recommend you visit this link. And now for another strong inductee into my Gift Hall of Fame: Boop.
Boop. is a product of Smirk & Dagger Games. It’s described as “a very ‘thinky’ game for 2 clever cats.” I happened to see someone demonstrating it awhile ago on TikTok, and thought the concept seemed intriguing. It’s kind of like Tic-Tac-Toe with cuter pieces and a few more twists. Although the box recommends it for players 10+, I could definitely see elementary school students as young as 6 playing it with a little scaffolding.
Let’s start with the pieces. Each player gets a set of either orange or gray wooden cat pawns. Some of the cats (the ones sitting up) are adult Cats and the playful looking ones are Kittens. To create the game board, you turn the bottom of the box upside down, and place the included quilted comforter on top to create a bed. The quilt squares are your playing spaces.
The object of the game is to get 3 Adult Cats in a row, or all 8 Adult Cats on the board. You must begin by playing the Kittens, though, and this is where the strategic part comes in. When it’s your turn, you place a piece on the board, but if it is next to any other pieces, it “boops” it to the adjacent space (or off the board if there isn’t one). Kittens “graduate” into cats when you manage to get 3 in a row. Kittens can’t “boop” adult cats and no cat can get “booped” if there is already a cat in the adjacent space.
There are a few more rules, but don’t worry if it sounds confusing because you can scan a code on the directions to use an interactive play-along tutorial to get you going. Honestly, once you play the game the first time, you won’t have to look at the rules again. And you will want to play the game again, I promise! There’s also a scaffolding suggestion for younger players on the included game instructions. Here’s a super cute tutorial from Play the Game HQ on YouTube:
Although it doesn’t use chess pieces, Boop. reminds me a bit of Tic-Tac-Chec, which used to be such a favorite in my GT classroom that I had multiple copies of it. Unfortunately, Tic-Tac-Chec doesn’t seem to be too easy to find anymore, but I promise that Boop. is a great alternative if you want children to learn about strategy and thinking ahead while having a wonderful time.