I’ve written about some games for maths-loving kids (or adults!) and games we love for adults or families over the last few weeks. Today I’m going to write about some games Bunny loves. If you don’t know already, she is 3 and a half, and has the corresponding attention span (generally 1 minute per 1 year old…) so shorter games work best for her. I love including games in our day and in our homeschooling, they really engage her and satisfy her need for fun (think Sims!) while she learns. Something that every game teaches her is turn-taking – not something which comes naturally to a small person, so I’m glad for the extra opportunities! These games do not require reading, so they’re great for Bunny now.
Many of the games we play I find online for free, by searching other blogs and Board Game Geek (which is a forum-style website where people who play games and invent games share free print-and-play files). Some of the traditional games we play are in this list. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one then I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
This reminds me of a giant Where’s Wally? (Waldo) page, but as a game board. It’s 2m long, so you need a big floor space! It is a cooperative game (my new favourite game style, if you have any favourite cooperative games let me know!) so there’s no friction between the players. If you spin a GoldBug (don’t ask me why it’s called that!) then you take a GoldBug card, look at the item on it, and then all the players have 30 seconds to find as many of those items as they can. When you find an item, you put a magnifying-glass shaped marker on it. Then you count them up and everyone gets to move forward that many squares! This has helped Bunny so much with her one-to-one correspondence (counting one for each one object), visual discrimination (important for learning to read – think distinguishing b from d etc) and teamwork (dividing areas of the board between players to hunt for objects). It’s fun for adults and children too! Thanks to Uncle C for buying it for Bunny!
This game gets mixed reviews for various reasons. It takes at least as long to set up a round as to play it (generally about a minute for each, depending on how well your children will follow the instructions to wait, take turns, etc). An adult has to set it up because it’s too hard for children to do themselves. When playing, you take it in turns to hit one block until it falls out of the ice rink; the person who makes the big block with the polar bear fall out of the rink is the loser. If you have more than two players, the loser from the first game is out and has to watch the remaining players play until everyone bar one person has lost. This may not work well for bigger groups. It’s quite noisy – kids using plastic hammers on plastic blocks isn’t the nicest noise ever. So why do we like it? For Bunny it’s quite difficult to have the self-control to only tap one block out and to take turns. These social skills are important to develop and this game is a nice way to do it. It provides lots of teaching moments! I’ve linked to the Frozen version, since it’s currently much cheaper than the original!
3. Operation UK/US
I already wrote about how we use Operation in our house as a fine motor skill game for Bunny. She asks to play every few days. It’s a fun way to do some fine motor practice. We don’t use it as a game – taking turns, using the cards and money etc – but we will definitely progress to that once she is older and can play with the battery pack in so that the buzzer works!
4. Dominoes UK/US
The domino set we use was mine when I was little – I love the nostalgia! It has animals and numbers on it so Bunny can learn to match the pictures, rank the numbers (e.g. when starting we ask who has the highest double, and that player goes first), and connect the number of animals/pattern of animals with the numeral on the domino. I struggled to find similar modern dominoes, so the UK ones are pirate-themed and the US ones are animal themed.
5. Number Cards
We have a set of number cards, and you can use them in so many ways! Games of Snap, memory matching games, and war games. For a war game, you can give a player a number of chances to see if they can beat the card on the table with a higher number. These games teach numerals, value of numbers, and comparisons between numbers. You can find them cheaply in shops or if you want to print your own, Life Over C’s shop has some great number card packs with game ideas you could buy.
UNO is a fun game you can use to teach colour- and number-matching. I cut out the trickier rules (like the bit where you say “uno”…) and introduce them as Bunny gets older. If you’re playing a card game with small people it might be worth investigating making or buying card holders UK/US.
Games on our wishlist:
7. Pengoloo UK/US
You collect penguins from the centre of the board/layout by rolling dice and matching the dice colour to the colours of eggs under the penguins. You have to remember where coloured eggs were when others are playing so that you can get the penguins on your turn! 6 penguins on your iceberg wins the game. I think this will be good for colour-matching, turn-taking, communicating, strategy and concentration span.
These transparent cards are so attractive! You lay out 12 cards on the table and then look for a “swish”. This is when cards match by one card having an outline of a shape in the same place that the other card has that shape. You can have 2-card swishes, or swishes that require more cards to be stacked up together. This should make it really fun and challenging for the whole family! I think Bunny should be old enough to work cooperatively on this game now, though ThinkFun recommend it for ages 5+.
So if there’s anyone little left on your Christmas shopping list, why not think about some of these games as a present for them?!