We don't have a specific time or place that we play games at. We ask the kids if they are interested in playing a game, and if they aren't, then we don't force them to play. We don't want to make them feel like it is a chore. Playing games should always be a fun experience for everyone. Losing interest in the middle of a game does happen with younger children, so we just know to expect it can happen. And when it does, no one makes a fuss. We keep all of their pieces in the same place and the rest of us continue playing. There's a chance that they may come back in a few minutes after stretching their legs.
We usually play at our game table, though sometimes we play on the floor or outside at the park on a picnic blanket. Depending on who is playing, we try to make sure there is a parent between or next to each of the children. So if it's a circle table and there are two adults and two children playing, a parent is on each side of the children, meaning they can get help from either of them. And when we play at a square table, we have a parent sitting next to a child and opposite the other child, so that each parent can reach everything on their side of the table.
This week we played two preschool aged games based on the kids' favorite TV shows: Rescue Bots and Paw Patrol. They are simple, typical children's games and while they are not very "challenging," they do help children practice some basic skill, like memory, picture recognition, color recognition, counting and social skills, such as taking turns and communication.
We have at least a half dozen, if not more, Memory games. The reason is because my son loves memory games. He has a great memory and he's very patient. But as with most kids, his interests change over time, so the Memory games reflect on that. His current obsession is Transformers, or basically anything robotic, and if it transforms, then that's a major plus. The Rescue Bots show is a favorite at our house and it's actually pretty great. We got this game before he even liked the show and it sat on our shelf for months before he noticed it. Then one day he was reaching up to grab his Thomas the Train Memory game and noticed it. Since then he has not gone back to the Thomas game (which I'm thankful for, because I can never remember the names of all the trains).
Memory games are great to travel with too. We have taken them on road trips and brought along trays. The tiles are thick and durable and slide around less on textured plastic trays.
Munchkin starts by choosing the pairs that he wants to play with (typically between 4-8 pairs). Then he flips them and shuffles them up and organizes them in rows.
Not a match.
When he's playing by himself, he will leave the tiles face-up when he's made a match. When he's playing competitively against his sister, they will take the matches they make and place them in front of them.
When he's finished, he usually finds a new handful of pairs and starts over.
The Paw Patrol Adventure Game is kind of like a mini version of Candy Land, but with badges and puppies. You flick the spinner and then move your puppy to the next available space of that color. If you don't already have one, you'll collect a badge of the corresponding color. When you pass a slide, check your available badges and if you have one that matches the slide, you can use it and move on to the color you were moving towards. It's fun for Munchkin who is eager to learn to count and this game helps him to practice.
My children aren't very competitive, so they usually play with all of the available puppies and take turns flicking the spinner and moving the puppy of their choice. No one bickers or fights over the puppies, and it means they have more opportunities to count.
Be sure to come back soon for our next Family Game Night!
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