Academics’ Choice Winners! Doodle Quest and The SMART Playbook

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As we’ve homeschooled this year I’ve been eager to add games to our daily curricula.  While I love games that teach straightforward academic concepts, I always get especially excited when I find a game that teaches more abstract concepts like creativity, perspective taking, and so on.

As an Academics’ Choice Advocate and reviewer I was sent the game Doodle Quest by Blue Orange Games as well as The Smart Playbook to review.

Doodle Quest, an Academics’ Choice™ “Brain Toy” award winner, was an instant hit with both my own kids and with the 3rd/4th grade graders I teach at our homeschool co-op.Academics' Choice Awards Advocate

Doodle Quest:

You will complete each quest with the power of your pen, drawing your way through underwater scenes on the quest cards. But it’s not that easy! Players draw on separate transparent sheets and must trust their eyes in order to meet targets and avoid obstacles. This unique drawing game includes 36 illustrations and two levels to master. The bait of the challenge hooks kids for hours of fun!

Doodle quest

Doodle Quest game play is very simple and straight forward. It takes about 2-3 minutes to go over the instructions before you get into the game. I played the game with my 7 year old and 4 year old. I knew before we started the game that the visual spatial and creativity aspects of the game would be beyond my 4 year old’s current ability level, but he didn’t want to be left out so we included him in the game. With three players it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to complete a game. My 7 year old enjoyed the game immensely. He keeps asking to play.

My 3rd and 4th grade homeschool co-op students absolutely love Doodle Quest! For several weeks in a row it was the number one requested game in my “Educational Games” class.  It was challenging for the kids, but they loved it.  It was wonderful to see the kids improve over the course of those weeks.

Doodle Quest game
The visual spatial aspect of Doodle Quest is challenging even for me as an adult. I was surprised several times when my drawings weren’t quite as accurate as I thought they’d be. There were several times that my 7 year old would begin a drawing and then realize that his drawing wasn’t quite going to match up to what was on the card and he’d erase and begin again. I saw an improvement in his ability to analyze the challenge and then visualize it on his transparency in just one game.

Doodle Quest is a game that kids (and parents too!) are going to love to play again and again. It’s simple game play, its originality, and its ability to help kids improve key developmental skills make this a valuable game in a parent or educator’s arsenal.

Doodle Quest is great for everyone ages 6+ and can be played with 1-4 players.

The SMART Playbook, an Academics’ Choice “Smart Book” award winner, is one that I was excited to review.

The SMART Playbook

The SMART Playbook:

The SMART Playbook introduces the basics of social skills for the modern world and is packed with more than 100 games and challenges to keep your child motivated, along with how-to guides for some of the finer points of social skill development.

Five SMART topics to help your child succeed in life and stand out for all the RIGHT reasons:

1. Social Skill Basics – The principles of modern manners.

2. Mealtime Manners – A guide to mealtime etiquette.

3. Art of Conversation – Face-to-face conversational skills.

4. Restaurant Behavior – The finer points of restaurant conduct.

5. Technology Talk – Internet safety and responsible usage.

I was so excited to use this book with my oldest son! He is generally fairly adept for his age at conversational skills.  His mealtime manners and restaurant behavior, unfortunately, are not quite so stellar.

The SMART Playbook has received numerous accolades like “Book of the Year” from Creative Child Magazine and the Mom’s Choice Award. Each skill is presented as a Challenge that the child needs to master.  For each challenge they master they earn tickets which can eventually be cashed in for some fun activity, toy, or other thing predetermined by parents and child.

While I really love The SMART Playbook, my 7 year old son has not been so excited about it.  Tried as I might, I wasn’t able to get him excited enough about the book to complete his challenges without nagging.  I attribute this to two simple reasons. 1) Because he is homeschooled he already has a LOT of demands placed on him by me.  He just saw The SMART Playbook as more work I was making him do. 2) The pages are very word heavy.  My son, a beginning second grader, only had to glance at a page, see it entirely filled with text, and be completely overwhelmed.

Inside The SMART Playbook

If I had the time to sit down with him each day and go over each of his challenges for that day neither of these would be such a problem for him.  Unfortunately, I am bursting at the seams with demands for my time.

I’m not ready to give up on it yet however. I’ve perused the entire book, and am hoping that once Big Brother is on summer break, it will be much easier to ask him to dedicate 20 minutes of his day to his SMART Playbook challenges.

Regardless of my own child’s initial resistance, I’d still recommend  The SMART Playbook to parents looking for fun ways to help their children learn etiquette and important social skills.

The SMART Playbook is great for kids ages 6-12 and retails for $19.99.



About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. ellen beck says
    Now that looks llike a lot of fun! I like how there are activities and ideas to get you going.
  2. My kids would be excited to try this out, we love playing games together, it is always fun to share something like this with the kids.
  3. The doodle quest looks like such a good game. I can see why the playbook can be overwhelming.