When our oldest was a toddler we set out to find him a board game. First, we thought about the games we remembered growing up, but he wasn’t ready for any of them. Then we started asking around and searching the internet to see what else was out there. We found out that there aren’t a ton of games geared at toddlers, and a lot of the ones that are feel more like an activity then a game. Finally we stumbled on First Orchard by HABA which quickly became our favorite board game to play with toddlers. Keep reading the First Orchard review to find out more!
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First Orchard Review, Our Favorite Toddler Game!
In First Orchard, players work together to pick fruit before the raven can get to the orchard and fill its belly. Per Haba the game stimulates free, play, recognizing colors and shapes, and first understanding of rules. This is one of Haba’s ‘my very first games’, all geared at kids aged 2 and up. Our toddlers LOVED this game, and it still gets played by our preschooler from time to time, so I felt it definitely deserved a detailed First Orchard review!
- Manufacturer: Haba
- Manufcturer Age Recommendation: 2+
- Number of Players: 1-4
- Game Length: 10 mins
Find it on Amazon.
How to Play
To set up the game, the orchard trees are each loaded up with their fruit (4 on each tree), and the path is laid out leading to the orchard. The raven starts on the beginning of the path. On their turn, players roll the die. The die has each color of fruit on it, a basket symbol, and a raven. If one of the colors comes up, the roller takes that type of fruit off the tree and places it in the basket. The basket symbol is wild, players can take any of the fruit off the tree. If the raven shows up on the die, move the raven token one space down the path.
Play continues until either all the fruit has been picked, or the ‘ravenous’ raven gets to the orchard and devours the fruit. If you manage to clear the trees you celebrate winning as a team, but if the raven gets there first you lose as a team.
Our issue with most board games set up for toddlers is that they are pretty dull. admittedly, toddlers have a pretty limited skill set when it comes to board games (sorry kids, stumbling around and learning to talk doesn’t give game makers a lot to work with!). However, First Orchard does a really nice job of taking things a toddler can do and wrapping them up in a game everyone can enjoy.
When it comes to toddler gameplay, shorter is better. Most toddlers have limited attention spans, so getting them to sit through a whole game can be a real challenge. In First Orchard, turns take just a few seconds, and the whole game can be played in around 15 minutes. This combo of quick turns and short overall gameplay is perfect for toddlers.
Winning and losing are emotional events for toddlers, this makes cooperative gameplay ideal for toddlers. Cooperative gameplay is a great tool for kids to learn to deal with winning and losing in a less emotionally supercharged way because they can follow your example! First Orchard’s cooperative gameplay is a great set up for kids to begin to understand how to win and lose.
One of our favorite things about board games is how much kids can learn from them (check out this post on the benefits of family board games). As a toddler playing a board game, the first thing you have to learn is what the heck is a board game? First Orchard is ideal for showing kids what a board game is. The rules are very simple and toddlers learn about turn taking, working toward a goal, and winning/losing. From a skill development standpoint, toddlers will learn colors and shapes, as well as developing their attention span and ability to wait their turn. First Orchard is also a great activity to develop toddler’s hand-eye coordination as they pick up and roll the dice.
More than any other age, construction quality is really important for toddlers. First Orchard is a really well constructed game. The fruit, die, and raven pieces are made of wood. Haba used high quality paint when finishing the pieces. We’ve had the game for about 4 years and there are no signs of ‘wear and tear’ on the wood pieces. The rest of the game is made from cardboard, but it is a slightly thicker cardboard then you typically see in board games. The result is that the game has aged well and after a LOT of play it is still in very good shape!
What We’d Change
There are two things I would change about this game and they are both very minor complaints. The first is that the game doesn’t grow with the kids. It does better than the other toddler games we’ve played, but by the time your child is 4 they will probably have moved on to more complicated board games. If Haba could have added a way to keep the game challenging through preschool years it would have been even better. The other thing would be to make the fruit basket a little bigger so they all fit in the fruit basket when you put the game away. Not a big deal but it would make things easier.
First Orchard is a great first game for your toddler, and of all the toddler games that we’ve played, this was the most played by far. It will teach your toddler the basics of playing board games, and more importantly they’ll have a blast playing. First Orchard is a great game to start your kid’s board game journey!
Find it on Amazon.
What did you think of first Orchard? Comment below!
Interested in toddler board games? Check out our favorite toddler board games here!