The best past-time for a young child is to immersed in the world of imaginary play. Games, though, offer a great opportunity for adults to interact with children in an honest way, playing with them, without becoming part of the imaginative game. Some parents and adults enjoy engaging in the imaginative worlds of their children, but others are less comfortable and find a game to be the best way to engage. Here are a few games that can help with that.
The Snail’s Pace Race from Ravensburger is a great cooperative game. In this game the players cheer six snails as they make their way from the start to the finish line. On each player’s turn, he or she rolls the 6-colored die and then moves the snail of the corresponding color one space. Sometimes children will choose one snail and root for that one to win, but more often they change their chosen snail part way through the game, rooting for the underdog, hoping that all the snails move along together without any one taking the lead. It’s been a longtime favorite in my house and I’ll never forget the time when my teenage son and his friends all gathered around the younger kids playing and they all rooted for the snails, making up cheers and loudly expressing reactions to the rolls of the die. Fun stuff!
Harvest Time is another great game that has the players working together towards a common goal. What is lovely about this game is that it has imaginative content to support the game. It is also completely pictorial so no number or letter recognition is required. It’s a great game made by Family Pastimes which has a collection of wholesome cooperative games.
Memory games are another great way for parents to engage with their children and even the youngest children can play a memory game with minimal competitive edge. Though the traditional way of playing memory includes competition there are many ways that a parent could change the game to minimize the competitive aspect. Perhaps one player chooses the first card and the other chooses the second. Maybe you collect the matches together in one pile. There are so many ways that this simple game could be adjust for different players.
There are also lots of different versions of Memory out there. I like this one made by eeBoo. The pictures are simple, pleasing and natural. It would also be quite fun to work together to make your own memory game. Parent and child could each draw a picture of the object to match them up. Or, to bring some letter practice in for older children, one card could be the picture and the match could be the beginning letter. There are so many ways to bring life to this simple game.