When you give a child a game, you’re giving boundless opportunities for hands-on learning. Countless life skills are practiced during game play: counting, waiting for a turn, following instructions, cooperation, and winning or losing with grace to name a few.
Our Personal Favorites
There are all games we own and have played many times, they are recommended especially for Ages 3 to 6
My kids’ favorite first game, ZINGO! helps young children build image/word association, vocabulary and matching skills through a fun play experience. The ZINGO! tiles and cards show familiar images along with words to help young players begin to make associations between the two. ZINGO! also helps build memory and concentration skills, encouraging players to study their cards before the game begins to help them focus on the images they need to match.
The cooperative effort required to play Busytown is priceless (all players must get to a ferry-boat to ride together to an island for a picnic). Add Richard Scarry’s charming illustrations, exciting little shortcuts if kids land on special spaces, and hurrying to find hidden items on the 6-foot game board and you have a fun-filled experience in a box.
Even if they can’t read yet, younger children can enjoy playing Sequence For Kids where the goal is to get 4 chips in a row. For a fun twist there are unicorn cards that allow you to place your chip anywhere and dragon cards that let you remove an opponent’s chip. The game ends once someone gets 4 in a row but my silly kids like to try to fill the whole game board to make this fun game last as long as possible.
Every Cranium brand game we’ve purchased has been a hit and Cadoo is our most recent find. Kids choose from a fun variety of activities (acting, drawing, sculpting, or solving puzzles) and a secret decoder mask reveals the hidden answers (reading is required for this game but if there is someone nearby who can help the non-readers then it works out just fine). The first player to get four game pieces in a row wins but again, my children beg to play until the board is full.
Rivers Roads and Rails really makes players think. Each card must connect perfectly to the next in the ever-changing landscape of this transportation-themed card matching game. For example, Railroad tracks begin in one place then end abruptly forcing players to figure out their next move once there are only Rivers for ships and Roads for cars to connect with. Great illustrations on the cards help keep this one interesting.
Even though my daughter cannot yet read, Monopoly Junior is one of her favorite games (I helped read the Chance cards at first but now she knows what all of them mean). Very similar to the adult version of Monopoly, I love it for the counting money practice plus all the details that she must remember while playing.
On Our Wish List (or already coming from Santa, shhhh don’t tell)
The original version of Spot it! will be in my son’s stocking this year but I already have plans to purchase other versions in the future–it looks that good (and the small tin is a great size for travel). Recommended for ages 7 and up, I actually think it will be a fast-paced but fun challenge for younger kids as well. The idea is to draw cards and match symbols, like light bulbs, snowmen, or puppies, but with one catch–only one matching symbol exists between any two cards. The first person to spot the matching symbol wins.
A little too big for Sara’s stocking, Sleeping Queens (a game advertised to helps develop memory, strategy, and elementary arithmetic skills) will be under the Christmas tree for her. My favorite thing about this game is that it was invented by a 6-year-old girl–how cool is that?! The reviews of this game are almost all 4 stars and how can you not love a game that includes a queen of all pancakes, a king of cookies and magic potion cards?
Close friends have this Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game and my kids always rave about it after a play date at their house. The object is to collect little acorns using “Squirrel Squeezers” to help develop matching, sorting, strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and pre-handwriting skills.
Chickyboom looks hilarious and the purple wooden chickens are irresistible. It’s all about balance and a big fun crash at the end.
How about you, what’s on your wish list? What are your favorite games?