Summer is a wonderful time for children. No school, no hassels, right? But, it can be stressful for parents, espeically on rainy days or unscheduled weekends, because children are not used to so much free time. More important, summer can be a brain drain for reading, language arts, and math skills. TV and video games may help stem boredom but they don't help maintain reading or math skills over the summer. So how about investing in a few low cost card games or board games. They keep the mind sharp and help children build social communcation skills as well.
Remember "Go Fish!", "Old Maid" [children 5 - 8]; "Concentration" and "Canasta"[9 to 12 years of age]? These card games use a standard deck of cards and can keep children busy for hours while exercising memory and number skills.
Education.com recommends Board Games to build math and langauge skills and can be purchased at a store or on-line at very little cost. A few of their recommendations are highlighted below.
PreschoolBig Top (2-8 players, ages 4+) A nice travel game for the younger set, Big Top gets pre-readers using their noodles to discern what's missing in a stack of circus cards. There are five possible colors and five possible animals that might make an appearance and children need to look and see which color and which animal aren't there, then find the card that combines both... before their opponent! The game helps hone critical thinking and recognition skills that will help with letter recognition and reading, later on. * * * (Gamewright, $9.95)
Grade schoolConnect Four (Ages 7 and up, 2 players)
This classic game is much like a cross between checkers and tick-tack-toe, except that it's played on a vertical grid which makes gameplay that much more exciting! Players drop their checkers into the rows to try and “connect four,” whether it's vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. But watch out! Your opponent will try and block your every move, so take the time to think ahead. This game never seems to get old, and though it may look like nothing much on the surface, its simple yet unlimited structure fosters light strategy, sequencing, and calculation skills. **** (Milton Bradley, $12.99)
Guess Who? (Ages 6 and up, 2 players)
In this one-on-one guessing game, players have a crowd of faces before them. Faced with the challenge of guessing which person is the other player's “mystery face,” players must ask a series of “yes”or “no” questions to narrow it down. “Is it a boy?” “Does he wear glasses?” “Is he bald?” As the possibilities are eliminated, kids learn to ask the right questions to make the correct guess. Although the appeal of this game may be lost on adults, kids often find hours of enjoyment out of the fairly simple gameplay. However, the laborious process of assembling the game out of its zillions of small plastic pieces may prove too much for weary parents and the game, though fun for youngsters, has limited educational value. ** (Milton Bradley, $17.99)
Taboo (Ages 10 to adult, 4 or more players)
Everyone knows what a birthday party is. But can everyone explain it without using the words “celebration,” “presents,” “balloons,” and “cake”? In Taboo, players must explain something without using the accompanying “taboo” words. Creative thinking, as well as knowing your teammates, go far in this verbal sprint, and players of all ages will take their descriptive skills to new heights.
* * * (Hasbro, $24.99)
Math Dice (Ages 8 to adult, 2 or more players)In this simple game of mental math, players set their minds racing to creatively calculate a target number. The product of two “target dice” makes the “target number.” Then, after rolling three “scoring dice,” players must add, divide, square, and subtract to come closest to the target number in the end. When billed as a game, kids may balk at taking up the challenge, but when played as a fun break from practice sheets and textbooks, Math Dice does the trick.
* * * (Thinkfun, $5.00)
HighschoolNymble (Ages 10 and up, 2-6 players)
This fast-paced game requires both creative vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Players must build as many words as possible out of nine randomly selected letters. They they pair their words with synonyms (words with the same meaning), antonyms (words with opposite meanings) and homonyms (words that sound alike). And all against the clock! Players can then challenge their competitors' word pairs—is poultry really the opposite of beef? This game introduces teens to the art of debate and the joy of finding the perfect word. Thinking quickly under pressure, and mastering antonyms, synonyms and homonyms is also useful SAT practice. Is your teen up for the challenge? * * * * * (Karmel Games, $26.97)
Scattergories (Ages 12 and up, 2-6 players)
The classic game of categories is sure to beef up your teenager's brainstorming abilities. In each round, players must think up a word to fit into the 12 categories given—from common groupings like "vegetables" or "state capitals", to more unusual categories like "things that you hide". The trick is that all items have to start with the same letter (i.e. carrots, Columbus, credit card info). Each round is different, giving this game serious staying power. Scattergories draws on your teen's vocabulary skills and encourages him to use words he may not have used before. It also encourages individuality and creativity by rewarding those who come up with a word no one else wrote down. It's best to keep a dictionary handy, though, for those “loosly based” answers up for debate! * * * * * (Hasbro, $22.99)
All School Ages
Set (Ages 6 and up, for one or more players)
This game of visual perception was created by geneticist Marsha Jean Falco in 1974. Similar to a geneticist connecting the traits of animals and plants to the genes and chromosomes in their cells, players must sequence cards based on similarities and differences. The object of the game is to identify "sets" of three cards from 12 cards laid out on a table. Each card is unique in its four features: number (1,2, or 3); symbol (diamond, squiggle, or oval); shading (solid, striped, or open); and color (red, green, or purple). A "set" consists of three cards where each feature is either the same on all of the cards, or different on all of the cards. Players call out “Set” as soon as they see them, infusing the game with an exciting and challenging time element. The game promotes problem solving and deductive reasoning skills, in addition to bringing home the concept of probability. * * * * (Set Enterprises, $12.00)
Tip 33 - Board games and card games help prevent summer brain drain