Board games teach younger children decision-making, consequences, and strategic thinking in a fun way while reinforcing whatever they learn in school (for those attending school) and around the home.
According to Peter J. Pizzolongo, the senior director of professional development at the National Association for the Education of Young Children via parenting magazine, “ For preschoolers, they’re a fun way to learn how to “follow rules, focus, take turns, and defer gratification, which helps with self-regulation, the basis of problem-solving and thinking creatively.” Here is a look at what kids can learn from the following six games.
This card game for two or more players can be aged up (the original, with words, numbers, and colors) or down (with Thomas the Tank Engine or Disney Princess characters), says Shannon Eis, a play and development expert and mom of two. It’s good for preschoolers to about age 8 or 9.
What it teaches kids: Paying attention is a crucial skill in school—and that’s just what preschoolers pick up when they focus on the cards and remember to play the same color (or character). Besides reinforcing numbers and colors, Uno also sharpens pattern recognition: your child won’t take algebra until eighth grade, but patterns will help her understand the relationship between objects and numbers, which is the basis of algebra. Older kids get lessons in logic, reasoning, and strategy by deciding which cards to throw down now and which to save for the next turn.
Where to buy: amazon china for RMB 35
Where is Sock Monkey?
A cross between Twenty Questions and Clue, this game gives wiggly preschoolers and young grade-schoolers a lesson in deductive reasoning and a chance to race around the house, says Sherry Artemenko, a speech therapist and creator of playonwords.com, an award-winning speech therapy site.
What it teaches kids: Your preschooler or kindergartner won’t be able to read the questions, but she can figure them out from the illustration—a decoding strategy that will come in handy when she learns to read. The game also gives her practice in asking questions, listening for the answers, following directions, and putting clues together—all crucial skills for the classroom.
Where to buy: taobao for RMB 263.77
Dominoes is another grade-school game that can be scaled down to the preschool level by buying tiles in colors, Disney characters, or animals, instead of the classic tiles marked with dots (like dice) from 0 to 6, says Eis, who’s also a contributor to Time to Play.
What it teaches kids: Besides being a good way to get kids to recognize numbers or objects quickly, dominoes is also good at honing a kid’s ability to spot patterns, since that’s what you need to make a match. The game also sharpens critical thinking and strategy, since older kids must decide how to maximize the number of points.
Where to buy: taobao for RMB 239 (Looney Tunes characters)
Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It
This 6-foot-long board game gets kudos from Artemenko and scores of Amazon users, who’ve made this preschool-friendly game based on cooperation (and the brilliant Busytown books by Richard Scarry) a bestseller.
What it teaches kids: Teamwork pays off, and that’s a great lesson for a preschooler or kindergartner who’s learning how to work with classmates. The game also reinforces your child’s ability to recognize objects and match them on the board, hones her powers of observation, and gives her practice in associating categories with people and actions—for example, learning you’ll find shovels and hammers at a construction site.
I Spy Ready to Read
Based on the I Spy books, this board game is actually five games in one, and is geared to kids ages 4 to 6. You may have to help your pre-reader with the riddles at first, says Eis.
What it teaches kids: This is another matching game that helps kids practice their visual skills and letter recognition. But even better, this game is based on rhymes, which help your child become more aware of language structure by hearing the syllables in each word and sentence.
Where to buy: taobao for RMB 280.77 (not the Ready to Read version but Eagle Eye version)
Connect Four/Connect 4 Launchers
Connect Four and Connect 4 Launchers (an updated version of the classic) provide the right type of challenge for your grade-schooler, who’s developmentally ready to become a better strategist, Eis explains. Yes, she’s still a sore loser (especially when she plays with you), but she’s also learning what she’ll need to do to win the game next time around.
What it teaches kids: To win the game, your child has to plan out her moves, so both versions sharpen her abilities to think critically and logically. Plus, she not only has to focus on what she’s doing, but on what her opponent is too—a skill known as divided attention.
Where to buy: taobao for RMB 305.77
Sourced from parenting.com
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia commons and woodleywonderworks (Flickr)