When searching for ways to teach kids crucial skills – like math and science concepts – games are a useful and abundant tool. But there’s a glaring blind spot in the gaming industry’s educational roster: effective reading games. That blindspot is precisely what the game Kangaroo Cravings seeks to remedy.

Kangaroo Cravings, from startup toy company Clever Noodle, is focused not only on teaching kids 4 to 9 to read, but specifically on building the foundation for true literacy, and equipping kids with the skills needed to think critically about words and phonetics. All of this, however, is charmingly concealed beneath fun gameplay and beautiful artwork.

Kids can play either competitively or cooperatively. | Source: Clever Noodle

The game can be played either cooperatively or competitively, and players’ main goal is to reach the pizza, either before their fellow Kangaroos or before the pesky raccoon, adding delicious toppings along the way. Players do so by following the instructions for each card. The cards contain “high-frequency sight words,” which are the words kids encounter most often in early reading materials. Kangaroo Cravings provides 300 high-frequency sight word cards; kids perform silly actions as they repeat and learn the sounds on each card to advance. The actions or repetitions (which have all been exhaustively researched and kid-tested) help store the terms into kids’ long-term memories. 

It’s an innovative way to incorporate educational processes into gameplay. But the important thing with games is that they are fun, and Kangaroo Cravings is. 

The Kangaroo Cravings board. | Source: Clever Noodle

Coming in at $29.95, while priced similarly to comparable games, Kangaroo Cravings isn’t necessarily a budget pick. However, in this case, you can tell exactly where your money’s going: Extensive testing means fun and effective gameplay, multiple ways to play offers gaming for different age groups, and plastic-free, beautifully illustrated packaging means you’re getting what you pay for and then some. Plus, there’s a thoughtful expansion pack for even more fun-filled learning. 

Both as a conduit for literacy and as a fun way to pass playtime, Kangaroo Cravings scores high marks across the board. No need to read between the lines (though kids could if they needed to, thanks to the game), Kangaroo Cravings is available now on the Clever Noodle website and on Amazon. 


This learn-to-read board game focuses on phonetics and the building blocks of literacy, high-frequency sight words. Players race, either competitively or cooperatively, to be the first to reach the pizza.

Product Facts

  • MSRP:
  • $29.95

About the author

Madison Patterson

Madison Patterson

Madison Patterson is an editorial assistant at the Pop Insider, the Toy Insider, and the Toy Book. When she isn't writing, the Seattle native can be found reading the classics, watching football, and scouring the city for New York's best vintage.