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Family Game Time

Children learn best when they’re ready for a new task, so be careful not to force young children to try games that are too complex for their stage of development. Even simple games can be challenging and fun. And, more challenging games can be adapted to make them simpler.

Board and Card Games

  • Age-appropriate board games. The stores are filled with traditional games for ages 3 and up that all of us remember and that the whole family can play, including:

    • Candy Land
    • Hi-Ho Cherry
    • Chutes and Ladders
    • Cranium
    • Cariboo
    • Trouble

    Note: These, and others, are so common they can easily be found even more cheaply as used items online or at garage sales.

  • Age-appropriate card games. Card games are inexpensive and easy-to-use with even the youngest children. For example:

    • Battle helps children recognize numbers and identify matching cards.
    • Memory provides an opportunity for children to improve memory and spatial awareness and identify matches.
    • Go Fish and Old Maid are excellent games to help children follow rules and solve problems by looking for matching sets.
    • Crazy Eights and Slap Jack require quick response and eye-hand coordination.

    Note: Although some of these games can be bought as special boxes of cards, all of them can be adapted to a regular deck of cards.

Word and Guessing Games

These games are great in the car or while waiting at the doctor’s office or in a restaurant:

  • I Spy With My Little Eye is an excellent way to help children identify and differentiate between objects, colors, sizes, and shapes.

  • Find three things that… can be adapted to initial or final letter sounds (Find things that start with “b” or end with “t.”), or it can be used to help children understand classification (Find things that travel or things made of wood.)

  • I’m going to __________ and I’m going to take a _____________.
    For younger children, the object of the game is to remember what each person has said they will take with them in the order the items were said.
    For older children, the objects can be alphabetized, so that each person not only remembers what everyone has said, but must think of items that start with the correct letter of the alphabet.

  • Play Categories. Each person takes turns naming an item that fits in a category, such as animals in the zoo, things that fly, or things that have wheels.

Online Games

Games for very young children are ever more available. You know your child is safe, the games are educational, and the information is correct if you look for government sites such as these for children.

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Updated on 3/21/2012