Board games such as Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble and Connect Four, and card games such as Go Fish and War, teach children to take turns, patience, perseverance, focus and sportsmanship. It is important to learn both to win with grace and to lose with equanimity. Focusing on the moves and plays of others helps children increase their attention span as well as to develop memory and learn to strategize. We play board and other games at school to teach these life skills as well as to reinforce concepts and skills.
Many games involve counting with one-to-one correspondence, recognizing numerals and combining sets (the dots on two dice). Games can help learn or reinforce letter and letter-sound recognition by adapting games like Candyland; just change the squares so the children pick cards and move to the matching letter spot rather than matching colors.
Bingo can be played with cards that have numbers, letters, shapes or colors. Memory or Concentration is a great game that’s fun to play and reinforces visual matching as well as strengthens visual memory. Card games like Fish, Crazy Eights and War teach numeral recognition, matching and an understanding of more and less.
Too often these days, children play only video games and do so in isolation. Family game time is a way to spend quality time together and offers opportunities for conversation. Take time over the holidays to play games together and then make it a regular family activity; you’ll all be glad you did.