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As the nights draw in and Christmas draws closer, I’m reminded of evenings spent playing board games with my family. Did you do that too? Do you still do that now?
I can’t ever remember not laughing while playing a game, even when we were at our most competitive! No matter how old we or our children are, a good game or puzzle can bring out the best.
Board Games and Puzzles
But board games and puzzles can also bring out the worst. I’ve got some tips and tricks from my teaching days to help with this, along with my favourite picks for building life skills through board games.
Skills for life
Any group game will encourage taking turns and co-operation. These are fantastic skills to build on in the relaxed atmosphere of your home. Here, where there is trust and respect, children can learn how to play with others before perfecting those skills in the wider world.
Reinforce good behaviour and teach by example, patiently waiting, encouraging and congratulating team players. If your children are different ages, choosing a game that is suitable for all levels can be tricky. In the past, I’ve conspired with older children to tolerate
a game below their years to enable my younger ones the enjoyment of playing with the big kids – and enjoy the game itself!
This isn’t about letting the younger children win, but about sharing the experience as a family or group. And that little bit of conspiracy with older children forms a fantastic bond around responsibility. You can see kids blossom when you hand them a little dose of that!
Have you done this? How did it go? What else works for you when choosing a game for older and younger children?
Traditional Games reinvented
Here’s one of my favourites for children aged 3-7. Remember the Three Little Pigs? Who doesn’t! Well here’s that tale retold in a fabulous board game.
Orchard Toys Three Little Pigs
This is from the Orchard Toys range, a wonderful, educational series of games that are firm favourites with our customers. Luckily, the boards are very robust and can withstand plenty of play sessions!
Players are aiming to build three houses for the pigs by rolling the dice and trying to land on the squares needed. The winner is the person who builds their house first and makes it to the centre of the board.
What does it teach? Counting skills and game playing strategy – the stuff of perspective and insight, great skills to nurture.
Pardon me! For wider life skills, I do like our Greedy Gorilla. Also from the Orchard Toys range, this clever game allows children to feed the gorilla from a selection of foods – some healthy, some not so healthy. It teaches the benefits of eating well and the dangers of over-eating.
Children collapse into fits of giggles when the gorilla burps but the game encourages them to put their hands over their mouths and say pardon me. This is a lovely game to teach good manners and the benefits of healthy eating.
Games that give back
Orchard Toys Giant Farm Puzzle
Giant Jigsaw puzzles
This giant jigsaw puzzle is also a playmat. Completing the puzzle is just the first part of the game. Included in the pack are 12 stand-up characters to bring the scene to life, offering
hours of endless play. This farm scene can be combined with the town and road jigsaw playmats to create an even bigger scene.
This is a great one for encouraging independent play. While you can be there at the start, to help your children build the playmat, stepping away once it’s done will allow their imaginations to take over, developing creative skills and, naturally, independence.
What does it teach? This one is great for dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Observation skills will be heightened along with imagination and creativity.
Which are your board game favourites? If you were to choose one from our Orchard Toys selection, which would it be? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you.