It is that funny week between Christmas and New Year when nobody has a clue what day it is. We have also been in semi hibernation because of a chicken pox outbreak (it is very dangerous for Isabel to catch while she is still on treatment) so there have been lots of opportunities to play with Christmas presents and spend lots of quality time together. Here are the top 5 games that we are loving at the moment and have presented a number of educational opportunities through play.
1- Junior Monopoly
This is Isabel’s favourite game and we are playing it at least three times a day. It has the same principles as the original monopoly game but it has been simplified down. The money comes in 1’s and each player receives 16 monies. The cheapest properties are 1 money and the most expensive is 5 monies. As you move around the board you must buy whatever property you land on, and if you land on a property owned by someone else then you pay them the amount shown on the board. If they own two properties then you double the amount to pay. The game ends when the first person becomes bankrupt.
What did we learn? To develop the early stages of mathematical awareness throwing the dice, recognising the dot pattern and knowing what number it is is a great start. Then matching the number to the squares on the board and knowing that you move one square for each number. Counting out the correct amount of monies needed to buy properties, find out how much money you have left and doubling numbers are all great for developing those maths skills. This is a great game and I highly recommend it.
We are big Lego fans here and Isabel received the heart lake hospital set for Christmas. She spent the whole of Christmas day building, only breaking for Christmas day dinner. She built for nearly 12 hours and then finished it off the next day.
What is she learning? Developing fine motor skills and building the muscles in fingers which, as we know can support them in other activities including learning to write and building writing stamina. It develops imaginative play. Once Isabel finished building the hospital she has spent hours developing role play scenarios for the characters. It develops self esteem, Isabel said she was so proud of herself for building it all on her own, she didn’t give up when she came upon a problem and either went back and worked out where she had gone wrong or asked for help. She had a huge sense of accomplishment and learnt that persistence pays off. She has learnt to solve a puzzle, finding the correct blocks from those available and putting them in the correct place meant she can follow instructions accurately. Amazing!
3- Duplo marble run
I bought this not really knowing what it would be like through a Facebook advertisement. I am so glad I took the risk and invested as it has been a hit with all of the children. It is also compatible with the Duplo we already own so it means we can build and extend with it. Megan has enjoyed trying to fit the blocks together to make the marbles roll down the slides. Isabel has been trying to build complicated arrangements of slopes and corners.
What are we learning? Lots of similarities with Lego. It is developing the fine motor skills, developing creativity as they think up new ways to fit the pieces together. Persistence in solving problems, when one scenario doesn’t work, then rearranging to try another way. This helps to develop science knowledge by learning about cause and effect Isabel learnt that marbles don’t roll up after she tried to make it roll down a slope then up a slope. The best thing is that it is teaching them about engineering, they have an idea in their head about what the marble run is going to look like, then they have to try and make their idea come to life.
4- Stacking rainbow
Some of you have probably heard of Grimms rainbow pieces. I have really wanted to invest in them but they are expensive and I haven’t been able to justify the expense. Then one day I was browsing online and came across a website called ‘Perry’s Woodcraft’ https://www.perryswoodcraft.com. It is a small business who make amazing wooden shapes that can be stacked or nested. I bought the rainbows and the hearts and the quality of the carvings are outstanding. There were so many different ones to choose from I can see that I am going to be visiting the site again soon! The play possibilities are endless and we are all having fun exploring them together.
What are we learning? Using imagination to find new ways to balance and stack the pieces. Learning the art of balance, where can you place the pieces so they are stable and won’t fall? How tall can it go? They can be used as part of small world play- Charlie used one arch as a tunnel for his car. It is like a puzzle, Megan enjoyed fitting the arches of the rainbow together in size order. She used lots of mathematical language such as small, big, on top of, under. Isabel loved the engineering side of the toy, and spent a long time working out different ways to make the pieces balance.
5- Role play food
I bought a birthday cake pack which has numbers 1-5, 5 candles and 6 pieces of cake from Lidl. The children have had a lot of fun with it over the past few days and the mathematical opportunities coming from it are endless along with the obvious imaginative play.
What are we learning? Megan has had the opportunity to recognise numbers 1-5. She has also been counting the correct number of candles to match the number. Isabel has been cutting the cake and so I have been extending her play by asking her to share the cake between a particular number of people or toys. She has been doing some basic division and finding out that it cannot always be shared equally. We have also been doing some basic fractions by asking for 1/2 the cake. If your child is learning about fractions it is a nice way of visually showing how to make different fractions e.g. 1/6.
That is our review of the best games for us this Christmas. What have your favourite games been?
This is my last blog for 2018. I look forward to learning through play with you in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!