Learning Through Play (USAopoly Review)


If you’ve read this blog before, you know that our family (especially the kids and me) really like games. I pretty much always request the (physical) games when they come up for review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, and this time, with USAopoly, was no exception. Usually companies send one game for review purposes, but this time they sent two: Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game. These are both super fun games, so keep reading to find more about them!



Tapple is a really fun word game. The board consists of a plastic base with letter “tabs” all around the edge and a timer reset button in the middle. There are several category cards (which tuck neatly into the bottom of the game to prevent loss), and the goal is to come up with a word that begins with each letter (there are only 20, not all 26 – the really hard letters like Q, Z, and X are left out) and fits the category.


Example category: Actors

A: Adam Arkin

J: Jon Hamm

F: Fred Savage

And so on. Players have 10 seconds in which to come up with their answer, tap the letter tab (which then stays down for the rest of the round so others know that the letter has been used), and reset the timer by pressing the button in the middle of the board. If a player can’t come up with an answer within their ten-second time allotment, they’re eliminated from the round. Last man standing wins the round (there are special rules in case you finish the board without getting down to just one player, but we never had to use them), and first player to win three rounds wins the game.



Wonky is completely different. It’s almost like two games in one. First, it’s a card game. Second, it’s a stacking game. It comes with nine blocks (three sizes, three colors) and a deck of cards, as well as a nice cloth storage bag (so you don’t have to keep the box if you don’t want to). To begin, place the blocks within easy reach of all players. Everyone is dealt seven cards, and the rest of the deck is set aside. The first player selects a card from his/her hand and places it in the discard pile, then follows the instructions on that card. This might be anything from “stack the large purple block” to “stack any color of medium block” to “discard this card without stacking any blocks.” The player follows the instructions on the card. If a player can’t play any of their cards, they must draw one card at a time until they get a playable one. The next player does the same thing, but they have to stack their block on top of the block placed by the previous player. Easy enough, right?

Not so fast.

The blocks aren’t quite cube. They’re . . . well, wonky! Each block has several sides that aren’t quite flat, which makes stacking them quite difficult. And very funny for the players. The goal of the game is to be the first to discard all of your cards – without knocking over the tower. (Each time anyone adds a block, the tower must stay up for a count of 3 for it to qualify as a success.) If a player knocks over the tower, they must draw additional cards, thus making it more difficult to win.

How We Played

The first several times we played, we followed the rules to a T to get a feel for the games. Before long, though, we decided that we liked Tapple better without the timer. It’s hard enough to come up with words for the categories without the loud beeping reminding you that you’re about to be eliminated! And with Wonky, Small Fry always wanted to join us, but he’s too little to understand the card portion of the game, so we ended up just stacking the blocks a lot, which is fun and challenging in and of itself because of the shape of them. It was good motor skills practice for him.

The Tapple board even made an appearance at Munchkin’s birthday dinner with the grandparents. Small Fry brought it out, and everyone was wondering about it, so we explained it and a spontaneous game erupted. Love that! We only played one round that night, but it was still really fun.

There are so many ways you could adapt these games, though – especially Tapple. As is, it’s a great vocabulary game. Tweak the rules just a smidge and it would be an amazing spelling practice game (words that end with the letter you tap, for example). Additionally, you can use any category you can think of, not just those on the cards the game comes with. For example, at the spontaneous game on Munchkin’s birthday, we did “Bible Characters.”

If you get too frustrated with Wonky’s misshapen blocks, you could use your own blocks as practice and switch back to the crazy blocks later. The possibilities are many with these games.

Our Opinion

I think it’s been pretty clear through my explanations that we really enjoyed both of these games. They’re fun and educational without kids feeling like they’re “doing school.” Other educational games are fun but still have that “learning” feel to them; not so with these two. It really does feel like you’re just playing a game. The kids often bring these games out to play in their free time, both with just the two of them and with friends. This is a pretty big deal – as much as they like games, they’re usually happy to just play with toys. But these games have made appearances over and over again. That speaks very highly of them.

Final Thoughts

Both games are available through the USAopoly website, and we’ve also seen them (Tapple, anyway) in our local Fred Meyer (Kroger to you east coasters) store. From the website, they’re $19.95 each, and I heartily recommend them, especially if your family likes games.


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As always, there are 99 other reviewers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew writing about these games this week. Click the banner below to find a list of all of their blogs and read their thoughts on these games.

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