I've talked before about how often we use puzzles in our homeschool, and today I wanted to share another fun tool that is quickly becoming a kiddo favorite at our house - boxed games! Yep, I've been challenged to quite a few rounds of Memory lately, and I'm loving the interest from the kiddos. Hands-on learning is the best kind of early learning, and we've put our game brains together to come up with a list of our favorite boxed games for you to have a little hands-on learning at your house.
NOTE: This is not a sponsored post, but we are using affiliate links to help you locate the games.
I've included recommended ages next to the games, but this is just what works in our house. Your kiddos may fall in love with a game before ours did. I've found that if I bring out a game a few times and no one is really interested I put it back in the game closet and eventually one of the kiddos will stumble upon it and ask to play a few months later. The babe, who is almost two years old, is very interested when we play games. I usually put him in my lap and he "helps" me play my turns.
We also sometimes use game pieces for other learning activities until the kiddos are able to play the games following the original rules. We've included those details, too.
- Memory - As mentioned before, Memory is hot at our house right now. It warms my heart because Memory was my favorite game as a kid. There are all sorts of materials you could use for Memory. We use a boxed classic version most often, but you can also use playing cards, kid made pictures glued on index cards, a self-contained travel game board, or print the Gemory game from our Gemstone Games printable pack. I've found Memory works well for the 3 to 6 crowd. It requires a fair amount of patience, so an older 3 year old might be better suited. Kids have an uncanny ability to remember things, so Memory is right up their alley.
- Connect 4 - Connect 4 is a great starter game. The kiddos showed interest in it as young as 18 months old. While they didn't play the game as it is intended, they loved to set up the blue tower and drop the yellow and red pieces down the columns. It's an awesome tool for teaching and making patterns. RYRYRY, RRYYRR, YYRYYR, etc. They began playing the game against an opponent around age 3 and playing with strategy kicked in at late 4 and 5.
- Jenga - Jenga is perfect for practicing focus and is great for calming down a rowdy bunch. The kiddos stay pretty quiet throughout. Of course, that only lasts until all the pieces get knocked down, but then they try, try again. Jenga works for the 3 and up crowd with the traditional rules, but we use the Jenga pieces for building, counting and basic math concepts as early as 2. I count Jenga as on of our best game investments.
- Operation - The first time a kid plays Operation has to be one of the funniest game moments. That little zap brings on the giggles every time. I think an older 2 year old who has been exposed to fine motor practice with tweezers will be able to handle playing with a grown up or senior kid opponent. You just want to watch that the little pieces don't end up in someone's mouth.
- Twister - Twister is another one of those classics that is perfect for older kiddos to play on their own by the rules, but has all sorts of uses for little kiddos, too. Twister is awesome for learning left and right and forces them to think quickly. Kiddos love getting tangled up while their also learning and moving. Little kiddos can use a Twister mat for color recognition activities. Hop from yellow to blue or collect toys from around the house that match each of the Twister colors.
- Yahtzee - Yahtzee is definitely for the older crowd. It's a grown up fave in our house, but the kiddos love using the dice and cup for math practice. Use the dice for 3 year olds for determining number amounts. Or for 4 and 5 year olds and addition. Roll a dice to find out the two (or more) numbers to add together.
- Scrabble - Scrabble is the ultimate for early learning and family fun. For kiddos just starting out with letters and letter sounds, the tiles are great for recognition activities. Next, switch to using the tiles to spell CVC words. Once those are mastered, your kiddos may be ready to start playing a modified version of Scrabble where the max letter count is four. We call this "Four Letter Word Scrabble," but I assure you no bad words are used. There are also all kinds of Scrabble worksheets available online, just search Scrabble on TeachersPayTeachers or Pinterest and you'll find worksheets for all learning levels.
Playing games can help develop all sorts of desirable human traits; critical thinking, problem solving, strategy, patience, determination, social skills, and competition. A few indirect learning perks that come along with playing boxed games include:
- Picking up after themselves - every game piece has a home in the box, so picking up is easy.
- Taking Turns
- Following Directions
- Learning to be a good sport whether you win or lose. Don't be obnoxiously boastful when you win or a sore sport if you lose.
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