This year, my daughter started third grade. I’m unsure how this happened as I swear she just learned how to walk, but I digress…
Third grade is a big year at her school, because not only do third graders finally move upstairs with the big kids, they get their first lockers. What this meant was that she spent the better part of the last half of the summer deciding how she wanted to decorate her locker. She eagerly awaited back-to-school night with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning. And when that night finally came and I watched her unload a tote bag full of trinkets and decorations and pictures and magnets and a mirror into that sacred metal space, the one that had been assigned specifically to her, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own schoolhood days.
I wasn’t as lucky as my daughter when I was a third grader. There were no lockers for the grade school kids, which meant we were stuck lugging around our books and folders in our backpacks. When the school year rolled around, we weren’t assigned lockers, so we had to look forward to getting school supplies instead. New backpacks, pencil boxes, folders, pens and pencils fueled our enthusiasm for those Monday through Friday days.
I never longed for a locker of my own, mostly because I knew it wasn’t an option.
Instead, my childhood was mostly spent longing for the one school supply that everyone else other than me seemed to have:
A Trapper Keeper.
Oh, long-lost Trapper Keeper of yesteryear, how I loved you. From your bright, 80s-inspired colors and graphics to your oddly sweet plasticy smell, you were a were a treasure.
While I somehow managed to go through school without ever owning a Trapper Keeper, my nostalgia for them remains, even now, decades later.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to check out the new Trapper Keeper Game from Big G Creative, you better believe the little girl inside me raised her hand and waved it around as excitedly as I used to when I wanted to be picked for Heads Up 7 Up.
The packaging alone for the Trapper Keeper Game is enough to send any 80s or 90s child into nostalgia-laced trip down memory lane. An adorable, miniature-sized Trapper Keeper holds all the game pieces, which includes Trapper Keeper folders and a variety of cards you collect during the game. The homework, quizzes, signatures, report cards, notes from classmates, and field trip slips will make you feel like you’re right back in school, waiting for the bell ring for lunch.
You score points by stashing these cards in your carefully selected (no fighting or you’ll get sent to the Principal’s office…) Trapper Keeper folder. Your overall total points will increase based on how many doodles you collect, too, so be sure to pay attention in class! At the end of the “school day”, the player with the most points wins the game!
The Trapper Keeper Game is actually a simple game, although it doesn’t appear that way the first time you read the instructions and play it. I think it was because it wasn’t quite clear at first what the “game” was beyond collecting cards and totaling up the points. When we were first reading the rather lengthy instructions, we felt there were too many things to do, too many types of cards, too many ways to get points, and the strategy behind it was not that apparent.
But there actually is some fun strategy involved in deciding what cards to take, what “doodles” to collect, and where to put them in your Trapper Keeper folder. (There are a few YouTube videos you can watch that I think better explain the game play than the written instructions do).
After playing one round, we understood the strategy, the game got easier, and we got into a groove with the rules and strategies for getting a good score. It seems appropriate for a game with its roots in school, where the same rules generally apply: once you get the hang of things, it’s so much better.
Even though my daughter has never seen a real Trapper Keeper, she thought this game was pretty awesome. Turns out you don’t need to have lived in the 80s or 90s to appreciate the fun products those years are famous for.
Overall assessment: The quality and design of the Trapper Keeper Game is very good and certainly nostalgic. The instructions are detailed (7 pages), but one thing that seems to be missing is a clear and simple statement about the object of the game. The game is indeed simple to play, but it seems like you need to play it once to really understand how to play it. We actually discussed the game structure and thought this might actually be a better game if it were developed as a board game, along the lines of The Game of Life. For what it is though, it’s a pretty fun game.
So for some old-school fun, pick up the Trapper Keeper Game, play a few rounds, and stash away some new memories courtesy of an old favorite. (Ages 8+)