You know you're looking forward to an event when you go even though you feel a migraine coming on. And when you bring a chatty and bouncy child with you to said event, knowing that she'll love it just as much as you do. That's how I ended up at #ChiTAG on Saturday morning, and yes, I'm glad I went.
#ChiTAG is an annual event in Chicago filled with exhibits of toys and games suitable for the whole family from Moshi Monsters (I learned that Chop Chop is Little Miss's favorite one) to complex versions of chess and everything in between. There is also a young inventor's competition and entertainment throughout the weekend. It's open to the public, something few toy exhibitions are - and that makes this all the more fun. And yes, you can buy the toys and games there (many with show only discounts).
We attended a breakfast sponsored by Bananagrams before the show began, and Little Miss was fascinated by the different versions of Bananagrams games available. It didn't take long before we dug into the Appleletters game and started playing. We've since figured out that we were playing it slightly wrong, but we both had a blast. Brandie was also at our breakfast table, and I saw and heard how much her family enjoyed playing Fruitominoes with her family, too.
At the breakfast, we also heard from one of the Young Inventors Challenge Winners, as well as the Chicago Fire Department, which has their charitable calendar available for sale yet again this year. Much as we enjoyed the lunch, Little Miss and I were excited to go see the show once it opened. When we walked in the door and saw R2D2 right there, I'm pretty sure that made Little Miss's day.
We didn't make it to each and every booth, but we did our best. We learned how to play fun games - and I love the ones that are educational as well as fun - like Albert's Insomnia. This is a card game that uses math, something we need to do given that the wee ones are supposed to practice math facts for 10 minutes each and every night. I love that this game works with many different levels of math, as you can use simple addition or multiple factors to get to the necessary number (e.g., 10 could be 5+4+1 or 5*2 or (4+1)*2 - so long as you only use each card one time to get to the next number). It's simple but involved, and that works well for us.
Another of Little Miss's favorites was the Plasma Cars. One of our friends had one years ago, but apparently Little Miss forgot to to use it and was pushing herself along Flintstone style. Once I called her over and demonstrated how rocking the handle moved you forward, she was off. My silly girl managed to fall off it a couple times turning corners too quickly, but you don't go fast enough, nor is it high enough, to actually hurt if you fall. On the plus side, she figured out how to make the car go backwards, as well, which provided much enjoyment. I had to pry her away from the Plasma Cars eventually, knowing there was a long line of other interested kids and that we had much more to see.
We also learned how to play Top Trumps, a card game I'd heard of before but never played. It's another great turn taking game that is a more complex than a traditional game of War. I think it's pretty neat that there are so many different versions of Top Trumps so that any interest someone might have is included from the Moshi Monsters game we played to dinosaurs to the NFL and more. They offered a tournament on Sunday with all sorts of prizes (which we unfortunately couldn't attend), and on Saturday they attempted to break the Guinness record for most people playing a card game at one time. Girl Scouts who participated even earned a badge for it, which was pretty cool!
Our favorite booth hands down (pun intended), however, was the Speed Stacks cup stacking, something I'd seen on tv somewhere but never really realized was a toy to play at home, too. The US national champion took Little Miss under her wing and taught her the basics of cup stacking. It was amazing to see how quickly she progressed from needing the girl to literally hold Little Miss's wrists to steer her to stacking and unstacking the cups in well under 10 seconds.
She was so proud of herself. Coming home, she immediately pulled cups from our cabinet to start to teach Mister Man. And she demonstrated to my husband. Then she went to my parents and pulled cups from their cabinets, too. Needless to say, this is one game that we'll be playing often at home. In fact, I have a separate review of this coming soon. I can't wait for you to see her in action!
There were so many more booths than this, and we had so much fun talking to the vendors and learning about what they had to offer. I noticed Little Miss eyeing up various games and toys, determining what would end up on her Christmas wish list. I can only imagine what I'll find if I go check out her diary right now. Given the whispering she did with Mister Man once we got home, I think I know what to expect.
But me? I can't wait for next year. And if you're in or near Chicago, come. ChiTAG is open to the public, and there is so much to do and see, way more than I was able to summarize here.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received complimentary admission to ChiTAG, as well as a gift bag from sponsors. I was not compensated, nor was I asked to write this post. As always, all opinions expressed remain my own.