In the board game, you use tiles. In the card game, you use cards. While we use "card" throughout this FAQ, play is exactly the same for both versions.

1. Deal 7 cards to each player. Choose the first player. 

2. Choose to play with word or image side of card, or both.


3. First player plays the first animal using a minimum of 4 cards. Very young players can start with 3 cards (we'd rather have the little ones play and give them a handicap). Cards can be played in any order.

4. Take turns, making sure to have 7 cards each round. Build new animals or add on to existing ones. Each turn is played according to one of three different moves:

  • ADD: Simply add at least one card to a pre-existing animal.
  • CROSS: Use a card to build out describing a new animal.
  • ADD + CROSS Add to a pre-existing animal and build out into a new animal.

If you are unable play one or more cards, pass your turn.

5. Score points for each turn.

  • Basic Points
    • +1 point for each card played. When adding to an existing animal, players reaps points of cards already played.
  • Bonus Points
    • +1 If a photo on the image side of the card corresponds to the animal described.
    • +1 If a player builds an animal using a body party from each color-coded category.

6. Play until all cards are played and/or all possible plays have been made. Tally final score.

7. Play again!

EXPANDED FAQ (click topics for more details).

+ Game Play

+ How do I “build” an animal using the Ani-gram-it cards?

Each card represents an anatomical feature, or body part, that an animal can have. Simply select cards that correctly describe the same animal, play them, and announce the name of the animal you are building.

+ How many cards do I need to build an animal? Do I need to build the whole animal (use a card for every part of the animal)?

A minimum of four cards is needed to construct a new animal, although this minimum can be lowered for younger players. Players do not need to describe all features of an animal in one turn. As long there are four features the animal is built. Additional features may be added later on.

+ How do I decide what animal to build with my cards?

As long as the cards played describe a real animal, any animal is fair game! In almost every case, a grouping of cards will describe many different animals. For instance, eyes, limbs, ears and teeth could describe a human, a cat, a bear, an ostrich and so on.

+ Do my cards need to be placed in any specific order?

No! Cards can be placed in any order.

+ Can I make an imaginary or mythical animal?

You may allow for this if you wish, however keep in mind that in order to encourage scientific learning, children should be encouraged to build real animals. To engage the very young, animated characters can be made from favorite cartoons or movies.

+ Can animals change as the game progresses?

Absolutely. The beauty of Ani-gram-it is that, similar to how creature evolve in nature, animals can be re-named and re-configured into new animals as players add cards. Say a player uses the eyes, limbs, ears and teeth cards to build an lizard. The next player could add another limb card to turn it into a tiger. The following player could add spiny to turn it into a porcupine, or, could add fur to keep the tiger going.

The more features are added to an animal, the more specific it becomes. The game becomes a hands-on illustration of the tree of life, with players journeying up through the branches and learning how and why they separate.

+ 2 Ways to Play: Image or Word

+ Why are the cards double-sided, with words on one side and images on the other?

The cards are double-sided because at na2ure we place a strong emphasis on visual learning. Children (and people in general) first comprehend by seeing. Only after a child has linked thought to image can he or she name the thought. We include a vivid photographic example for every body part that we name so that children can learn more intuitively—and, therefore, more efficiently.

+ Does it matter which side I play on?

This is completely up to the player(s). Some people may be more comfortable with verbal play and others with visual play. Ani-gram-it can be played entirely on the image side or the word side, or you can mix it up. However, we suggest the players move out of their comfort zone in order to better bridge the cognitive gap between visual and word-based learning.

+ Card Types: Color-Coded Categories & Pairs

+ How do the categories work?

The cards are color coded by categories: move, see/hear/feel, eat, skin and inside. These categories are meant to aid comprehension, so that children can begin to understand how various body parts are grouped.

+ Do I have to use a card from each category in order to “build” an animal?

No. As long as you play at least four cards that correctly describe the animal, it doesn’t matter which categories they are from. However, if you are able to build or complete an animal with a card from each category, you will earn extra points!

Some cards, like limbs and eyes, are referencing animal parts that usually come in pairs. Are the cards representing a pairs? Yes. The following cards represent a pair (two):

Fins can be used either on their own or as a pair.

When playing one or more of these cards, remember to count the body parts in twos. For example, if you wish to play a spider with all eight legs, it will take four limbs cards.

+ Scoring: How Do I Tally My Score?

Players tally points as follows:

  • Basic Points:

    • 1 point for each new card played. When adding to an existing animal, players reaps points of cards already played.
  • Bonus Points:

    • 1 If a photo on the image side of the card corresponds to the animal described.
    • 1 If a player builds an animal using a body party from each color-coded category.

You may keep score on looseleaf, or click here to download one of our scorecards to print.

+ Verification: What if i’m not sure if my cards are accurate, or if I don’t know what animals my cards can describe?

Ani-gram-it is all about finding the gaps in knowledge and filling them in. The best way to do this is through conversation. If you are unsure, talk to the players around you to find out what they know. If you are still unsure, choose a reference.

+ Play Options

+ Can Ani-gram-it be played cooperatively in a way that everyone wins?

Ani-gram-it should be played with a cooperative spirit even when it is being played to win. The goal is to learn about the animal kingdom together, even as players are challenged to score as many points as possible, thereby increasing biological literacy. That being said, there are ways that the game can be adapted to be even less competitive:

  • Play without points.
  • Play with points, but tally all players’ points collectively. + Aim to beat your high score in successive games.

+ Can I choose a theme for a game?

Yes! Here are some ideas:

  • Choose a habitat and only make animals from that area, like Madagascar, or the Amazon.
  • Choose a group such as cartoons or movie characters (great for little ones!).

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