Create a Perfect Game Closet With 10 New Games
By Mara Kaplan
During these cold winter months, nothing is better than sitting down as a family and playing games. It gives you a chance to be together, talk, laugh and have fun.
Playing in the dining room, at the kitchen table, or on the family room floor creates a whole different family dynamic than other activities. Conversations can start to happen -- you may learn things about your child academically or socially that you didn't know. It works much better than asking "what happened at school today", when you get that blank look like you are crazy or something.
When playing games, children learn to play as a team -- and they learn you don't always win. That's something, in this day and age, we don't teach our children very well. We set up school and sports environments so that our children always succeed. But in the real world, that does not always happen.
According to, Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., a child psychiatrist and coauthor of The Over-Scheduled Child and four other books other benefits from games include: * Number and shape recognition, grouping, and counting * Letter recognition and reading * Visual perception and color recognition * Eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity * Improved verbal communication * Increased ability to focus and lengthen attention span
Most traditional board games are not appropriate for children younger than 5 years old; they're not cognitively ready to handle all of the rules. However, there are some new games in the market designed specifically for 4-5 year olds that are great fun. The best games are not "characterfied". High School Musical and Dora the Explorer don't have staying power. In five to ten years, when you go to pull out the games over a long holiday weekend--no one will even remember High School Musical.
Most games with electronics lose some of their educational value. Monopoly without the money and the banker just isn't the same. If what you want is time with your family then you don't want to purchase games that are played on the computer. The idea of family time, is that you are sitting around together playing and laughing and having fun.
Below are 10 games all added to the market in the last eight years. They all meet the criteria that they don't have batteries, you don't use a computer to play them, the designer's created them with child development in mind, and they have staying power. You will want to continue to play them for many years.
The games are listed in age appropriate order and the description comes from the manufactures.
1. Zimbbos--Use your creativity and Sense of Balance to Build the Most Elephantastic Pyramid. Taking turns, roll the die to find out how many elephants you have to add to the pyramid. The player who puts the last elephant on the pyramid wins the game. It is a classic stacking game where kids can develop their spatial relationships and test motor skills. Appropriate for 3 to 8 years old
2. Horton Hears a Who! - You to the Rescue!--Go on a wild adventure to save the Whos! Put on the Horton hat and race around the house to find the clovers where the tiny Whos live. Pick them up with your trunk?then hurry back before time runs out! The player who rescues the most Whos is the winner! Appropriate for is 4-8 year olds
3. CARIBOO--In Cariboo you enjoy the thrill of unlocking secret doors and discovering hidden treasures! The matching activities in this game combines laugh-out-loud fun with four early-learning fundamentals -- letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. And, it grows with your child. Kids practice A, B, C and 1, 2, 3, 4 with the Beginner cards, then explore the full alphabet and numbers 1 to 10 with the Advanced cards. Each game of CARIBOO takes about 10 to 15 minutes to play. Appropriate for 4 and Above
4. Finders Keepers--Be the first to find the hidden objects. Choose 3 picture cards from the card keeper. One, two, three, go! All players at once hurry to locate and place colored chips on the matching pictures on the game board. Whoever is successful gets to claim the picture card. Play as many rounds as you want - whoever wins the most cards wins the game! Appropriate for 4-7 years old
5. ThinkFun Zingo--Players try to fill their Zingo! cards with matching tiles from the Zingo Zinger. The first player to fill his/her card wins! Rules can be adjusted to favor more or less competition among players, and to vary length of time that each game takes to play. Zingo teaches shape and pattern recognition, as well as observation, and short-term memory. Appropriate for 4 - 8
6. Blockus--Blokus encourages creative thinking. The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces onto the board. When placing a piece it may not lie adjacent to the player's other pieces, but must be placed touching at least one corner of their pieces already on the board. The player who gets rid of all of their tiles first is the winner. Four players make this abstract game especially fast and exciting; however, it can be just as fun for two or three players. A game of Blokus typically lasts 30 minutes. Appropriate for 5 and up
7. Gobblet and Gobblet Jr. Gobblet--a four-in-a-row, tic-tac-toe game where you can move pieces around the board to increase your chances of winning - or losing. Simply move your piece to a vacant spot, or gobble up an opponent's smaller piece to gain the advantage. In Gobblet Jr. you are working on getting 3 in a row. Gobblet is for 7 and above, while Gobblet Jr. is for 5 and above
8. Qwirkle--This game combines well-thought out strategy with quick-thinking challenges. Qwirkle is played by creating rows and columns of matching colors and shapes. Since the simple play requires no reading, the whole gang can connect shapes and colors making the strategic multiple-tile moves that earn maximum points. Appropriate for 6 and up
9. Apples to Apples, Apples to Apples Jr. and Apples to Apples 7+--The name of the game is a play on the phrase "apples to oranges," and the game is about making comparisons between different things. General game play is as follows: players are dealt red cards which have a noun printed on them, and the judge draws a green card on which an adjective is printed and places it for all players to see. Each player then chooses a red card they are holding that they think best describes the green card. The judge then decides which adjective she likes best. Apples to Apples is for 12 and above; Apples to Apples Jr. is for children 9 and above; and Apples to Apples +7 for children is for 7 and above.
10. Stupiduel--Stupiduel is a simple but entertaining storytelling game. Use your hand of item and modifier cards to construct a diabolical weapon (such as "1000 electrified hamsters") with which to attack a fellow player. Then you must tell a story about how you will use this implausible but fearsome weapon to destroy your opponent. The other player gets to build a defensive item in the same way (maybe a "radioactive garden gnome") and describe how it prevents or deflects the attack. The rest of the group then decides who is the winner of the battle. Appropriate for 12 and above.
Mara Kaplan believes that every child has the right to play. It is through play that children learn and development. In order to play children need excellent toys. With 12 years of purchasing toys for a nationally renowned playspace, Mara is now reviewing and recommending high quality toys. A long list of games divided into age groups that will help you create a complete game closet is available at == http://www.letkidsplay.com/get_a_game.html
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