Last year, just before summer, my niece sent me a note telling me that some of her fondest memories of childhood were the times that I came by just to play games with her and her siblings. She said, “She was sure that time spent together was the reason she still loved so many games today”. I know that playing board games with her siblings was truly a bonding experience. Each one of them is now grown, but they still love games and will even organize game nights with friends and family.
She went on to say, that she is working on instilling game night with her own three young boys. As a teacher herself, she said, “Playing games is not just the teaching of rules and going through the motions, but a lot of the appeal is the time spent together, working for a common goal”. Playing games with children has so many benefits. But, she is right, first and foremost, it allows them to spend unhurried time together, laughing and socializing, while enjoying the interactions of playing the game.
Other benefits offered by playing a game:
- Learning to wait for a turn, as well as, actively taking a turn.
- Understanding the set goal.
- To learn color discrimination.
- To work on reading skills, through letter or word recognition.
- To work on math skills, through counting or spatial awareness.
- Decision making and critical thinking.
After getting her letter, I quickly sent her three games that I played with the children at school. But recently, I was introduced to a company called, Peaceable Kingdom, that makes games for younger children. This company designs their games to be played cooperatively (to reach a common goal), rather than competitively (against each other). The game that I watched the children play over the holidays was called, HOOT OWL, HOOT! The children worked together to get all their owls back into the nest before the sun came up. Since it’s a cooperative game, either everyone wins or they all lose.
After watching the children play the game, I was curious to see how many games this company had for young children. They had many! Some of the titles include: Willy’s Wiggly Web, Count Your Chickens, Feed the Wozzle, Monkey Around, The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Stack Up!, and Sunny and Stormy Day!
I was drawn to the last game listed. One of the reviews describe “Sunny and Stormy Day! as this: “Peaceable Kingdoms latest cooperative game uses a weather metaphor to open conversations about emotions and how to understand them. The delightful game presents a picture book, game and a sharing activity to encourage children and parents to talk about what made them happy, sad, or even mad on any given day. These age appropriate tools serve as playful prompts to help build the social emotional skills needed to be kind, empathetic, resilient and confident. And in a world dominated by screen time, these skills are more important than ever”.
As teachers, one of the things we are constantly doing throughout the day is to help the children understand their emerging feelings, identify them and how to deal with them. They may have been sad because another child colored on their drawing, or angry when someone took their toy. Or, they may have been excited to be able to do something on their own, without any adult help.
At times, Jackie and I would hear parents say to us, “(child’s name) never tells me about his or her day”. This game would allow the child an opportunity to open the lines of communication with their parents about their feelings and events that impacted their young lives.
All the Peaceable Kingdom games are cooperative, and the play time is short (10 – 20 minutes), which is ideal for this age group. Also, a few of their games offer a “level up”, which allows the game to grow with your child.
So, I encourage you to start your own tradition of having game night with your child; your child will reap the benefits, because it’s special time spent with you!