This is an imaginary conversation I've had in my head with parents of children I've taught.
Parent: What is one thing I can do to help my child learn basic facts and skills to prepare him for school?
Me: Play games with him.
Parent: Oh, please, oh please don't tell me I have to play Chutes and Ladders with him. I just can't do that.
Me: No! I refuse to play Chutes and Ladders with my kids. That game is awful! Just when you think the game is over, someone has to slide aaaaallll the way back down. Awful game.
Parent: Are you sure I shouldn't do some worksheets with him?
Me: STAY AWAY FROM THE WORKSHEETS!!! I know they sell them all over the place these days, but do not buy them unless your child begs you for some homework. Once your child learns some skills, he may very well beg you for those books, but don't do it yet.
Parent: Why board games?
Me: They are fun, and the kids will learn all sorts of skills without even realizing it. All games will help children learn to take turns, to be patient, and to be a good sport. (As long as you let the child lose. Please, for the love of all, please let your child lose.) The type of game you choose will depend on which skills he is learning.
Parent: So, which games should we play?
Me: Glad you asked!
Here are 5 games we play most often. There are plenty more, but these are ones which always make the cut in our "This game closet is a mess! Get it cleaned out NOW!" Goodwill giveaway. They will never be given away.
1. Monopoly Jr. Eh!
I'm not usually a fan of "junior" games, and I avoid playing a full version of Monopoly at all costs. I was surprised I liked Hasbro's version for little kids. The kids will learn names of colors, how to identify numbers, how to count, how to add and subtract, and how to make change. Depending on how young the child is when you start playing (We never pay attention to ages on the box.), you will need to change the amount of help you give the child, especially with the money part of the game. Each child is different, so you will just need to take cues from yours. Be patient, let them do as much as possible, and they will be pros in no time.
2. Bromley and Cotica's African Adventure Playzzle Eh!
This game is similar to CandyLand, but don't hold that against it. When forced to play CandyLand, I set the deck to make sure no one pulls a gingerbread card just as he's about to win. I don't do that in this game. Instead of colors, there are animals, and instead of candies, there are animal adventures, like a hippo wash or camel ride. What makes this different from CandyLand are the extra cards. There are some go back spaces or go ahead spaces cards, as well as some trade places cards, which makes the game more exciting. It's called a "playzzle" because it isn't played on a board which will eventually fall apart. The board is a sturdy puzzle the child puts together to set up the game, and it all fits very neatly into the box when you are done. Your child will learn the names of different animals in both English and Spanish (if you choose to say the Spanish names written on the cards).
3. Mexican Train Domino Game Eh!
The game says 8 and up, but our kids have been playing it since they were 3 or 4. As with any game, when first introduced, the child will need some extra help. In no time, the child will not only know how to play, but will be able to beat you. There are few rules, so it's easy to pick up. The colored dominoes are helpful for the younger kids, as they don't have to worry so much about the number of dots on each domino.
4. Animal Alphabet Puzzle Eh!
This is a great matching game to learn the alphabet. If you want to know the best way to play this (or any matching game) with your child, read the post I did about it, then come back and thank me profusely.
5. Spelling Bee Bingo Eh!
The game only takes a few minutes to play, and children of any age can play. (Except babies. Babies can't play. Toddlers can.) As you can probably guess, this game will help your child learn to identify letters and maybe even spell a few words.
There are so, so many more great games to play with your child. If nothing else, get a plain old deck of cards. A game of war (with a time limit, because a full game until someone wins is just torture) can be played anywhere. Even when waiting in a Brady Bunch-esque car service shop.
I'm linking up with Fountains of Home, who is temporarily hosting 5 Favorites.
*Christy, the temporary host, is Canadian, so we had to spell it "Favourites" for today. I threw in the "eh"s just for my mom, who is also Canadian.
Do you have any games you like to play with children?
Have a lovely day, eh!