I can’t believe it. It was one thing to hit September and have the 1c pencil deals replaced by pumpkins, skeletons, and apple-cinnamon scents. Now, its just October 8 and the pumpkins are marked down 40% off to make room for green, red, blue, and silver … and the aroma of pine!
That can only mean one thing: merchants are getting us ready for the holiday gift season. So before we’re bombarded with ads for other stuff, I thought I’d put in a pitch for games that make great gifts because
- We can do them together as a family.
- Are perfect additions to the classroom, especially when kids have to stay indoors for recess.
- Make literacy fun.
As a mom and literacy passionista, I am always on the lookout for entertainment that doesn’t involve a screen, has some type of educational value, and can have lots of players. I have some childhood favorites like Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary, and Yahtzee, but also like to find new things that have the bells and whistles to grab kids of today’s generation.
Most of these games are good for kids who are in second through fourth grade and have some experience with creating and playing with words.
I am usually behind the times, so Bananagrams had been around the world and back a couple times already before I discovered it in 2010. I had seen it, but never played it. Now I’m addicted … yes, two years later it is still one of my favorite gamges.
Playing Bananagrams is great fun and, as it turns out, is a great modeling tool, too. A bunch of us moms used to play it at the pool on summer evenings. I can’t tell you how many times our dripping-wet kids came over to watch us play and “help” us with words.
Scrabble SLAM is a card game that is a natural choice when you want something for kids of mixed ages. Essentially, you rebuild a four-letter word like sand by playing a cards in your hand … changing it to hand or sane or band, etc.
Speed is part of the game, so it may take young players a bit to get comfortable. The other option is to turn “off” the speed component or pair together in teams (e.g., parent / child).
Concepts & Strategies
Such & Such is for up to four people or can be played in teams. The game’s tag line is “the answers to the game come in twos,” so players build pairs of things that go together: peanut butter and jelly, guilt and innocence, moon and stars, etc.
This is a game about “clever pairings and witty competition.” It will be more fun for kids 10 and up, but could be hilarious to do with sibling teams of mixed ages.
Ticket to Ride is a good, old-fashioned board game. Each player is trying to build a cross-country railway route by making city-to-city connections from one coast to the other. The game is sure to expand the players’ vocabulary and understanding of geography, history, and analytical processes.
There are lots of facets to the game, including geography and strategy. There are individualized versions for several continents.
These games combine fun and literacy concepts on many levels, not just letters. They require creativity, memory, problem solving, and even strategy.
It’s your move. What are your favorite games to play as a family?
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