Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Learning Fun: Board Games

Do you remember the time when the word "games" was not associated with the computer, TV, phone, or any other hand-held device? Whatever happened to sitting down and playing games with each other? In this age of technology, it almost seems like board games and card games are becoming a bit "old fashioned." In my opinion, there's something refreshing about good, old-fashioned board and card games. Here's some reasons why:

1. They provide a great opportunity for social interaction (as compared to interacting with a screen)
2. They require processing skills that are more concrete and realistic than watching flat images on a screen
3. They can support a wide variety of skills: fine motor, math, logical thinking, literacy, language, etc.

Before I tell you about some fun games, I want to share some tips on playing games with young children that I've learned from my experiences. I also found some great information in this book called Playful Learning and Teaching by Judith E. Kieff and Renee M. Casbergue.

In general, it is good to let children experiment with the rules in games. It is very normal for young children to change rules as they play a game. It does not mean they are cheating! They do that because they are in the process of understanding rules and how they work. As children get older, they will become more able to play games with pre-existing and complex rules.

*Pre-school aged children have difficulty playing games with clearly defined rules. Games involving music and movement are often best, as they can help kids to learn simple boundaries. You can still play board-type games with them, just be flexible with the rules and allow them to create their own.

*5 & 6 year old children are developing their sense of rules in games. This can lead children to get frustrated when others don't follow the rules (especially the ones they have created), and can become very rigid in following the rules as they play. As conflicts arise during this age group, you can support their development through showing flexibility with rules.

*7 & 8 year old children start to gain a more concrete understanding of the meaning of rules. For this reason, board games are usually more meaningful at this age, and they are able to play them with each other without as much conflict over the rules.

Alright. Now for the fun stuff! Here are some of my game recommendations that might inspire you to put away the Wii or I-Phone. :)

Max the Cat is a cooperative game, where players work together and there is not a specific winner. A great tool for developing social skills.

There are different versions of the game Zingo that can support literacy and math skills, in a Bingo-like way.

The game of Sorry is an old favorite in my family. While the concept is simple, it can be a great game for developing strategic thinking skills.
This Dr. Seuss I Can Do That game is a fun hands-on, movement game, that can also bring some laughs.

And finally, a few fun card games: Rat-a-Tat Cat, Hisss, and Slamwich.

There are so many great games out there! Old favorites like Boggle Jr., Monopoly Jr., Checkers, Chess, Connect Four, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, etc. can also be great for supporting learning and development- besides just providing some good, old fashioned fun.

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