I grew up playing games. Lots of games. Some of my fondest memories are that of game playing. It was always simple, lighthearted, and fun. When I think of my in laws I picture them sitting at their kitchen table playing cards. They were always laughing and having fun. There's nothing complicated about pulling a game off the shelf, and sitting down at the table. There is no advance prep. Everything is done for you. Pop a bowl of popcorn if you like, but that's about as complicated as it gets. There is no simpler way to bring the family together for a time of casual conversation and laughter than a board game. Our last few family gatherings have ended at the kitchen table with a game of cards or other board game. It just seems the natural thing to do.
Building on Virtues
We focus on one virtue per month here at The Zoo Crew, and board games offer up a simple way to reinforce those virtues. There are plenty of opportunities for sharpening our character in game playing. Are we being honest? Are we being helpful? Are we being kind? What about being attentive, or exhibiting self-control? And on, and on. Games are such a non-threatening way to interact with each other and reinforces the virtues we teach in our home.
Being a Good Sport
Losing isn't always easy, and games with family provide us with a great opportunity to practice being a gracious loser. This is such an easy way to set the example for our children on how to lose like a winner. Games are for having fun, even when we think we're losing or we actually do lose. Sometimes there's even the opportunity to teach about being a gracious winner. It really isn't if you win or lose, but how you play the game. Board games are the perfect place to teach doing your best and having fun no matter the outcome.
Reading and Math
There's hardly a homeschooler that has dropped a few beads of sweat over reading and math. We're always so worried about them both, aren't we? Well, what better way to reinforce math and reading than board games? There are specific games on the subjects like Sight Word Bingo and Money Matters for Kids. However, games in and of themselves naturally reinforce these skills. Try to play Monopoly without reading or math being involved. If you keep score in games like UNO and Rummy that's math. Plenty of games, like Caboodle and Life, require reading along the way.
A lot of games foster creativity naturally. Cranium and Pictionary play on the imagination and artistic abilities of the participants, and games like Story Cubes or Pig Tales foster creativity on a more literary level. However, my favorite thing about games is making them your own, and no one that I know does that better than m five-year-old. He loves to take games and totally use them in ways they were never designed. He has a game he made up with his cars and our Sorry game. Typically, he will play this when he really wants to play a game, and no one is available to play with him. He spends hours doing this. No kidding!
Sometimes it is difficult to impart abstract thinking, thinking ahead, analyzing, and the like. Games are perfect for this. Our nine-year-old was gifted the game Othello for Christmas this past year. We finally pulled it out last month and taught her to play. All it took was my husband and I playing a game or two with her watching for her to catch on. Now she's teaching others. Someone famous along the way said something to the effect that the true test of our knowledge is our ability to teach it to others. What better way to reinforce knowledge than to teach others, and she's been doing that a lot with the little ones and even her cousins. A lot of decision making happens in game playing. What safer environment to practice decision making, risk taking, and making mistakes than playing games?
Some of Our Favorites
Chutes and Ladders
Hi Ho Cherry-O
Sight Word Bingo
Monopoly - Dinosaurs
Brain Box - USA and World Versions
Scrambled States of America
Ants in Your Pants
Scrabble ABC Scoop
Sequence for Kids
What are your favorite games? We have plenty more, but those are on the top of our most played list. We'd love for you to share some games with us that you enjoy as a family.