Game On!

classic battleship

Mr. Star Wars is going to a friend’s birthday party this weekend, and we shopped for a present today. I am starting to believe that shopping for a boy around age 9 or 10 is difficult. We have been giving a lot of small Lego sets for birthday presents, which are usually around $10 at Target, but I think it is possible we are aging out of Lego gifts (insert RoomMom’s heart breaking here). Mr. Star Wars chose the classic Battleship game as the birthday gift for this party.

Battleship is a great game and gift. In fact, board games in general might be the answer to my gift dilemma for this age group. As a teacher, I completely approve of this choice. When kids play games, they reinforce great critical thinking and planning skills needed in the classroom. Socially, they learn to take turns, cooperate, and communicate with their opponents. Another great feature is the fact that a variety of ages can play together. Look for sales at Target or WalMart and pick up a few of these games to have on hand as a gift for your next birthday invitation.

hedbanz

  • Battleship: Players must understand coordinates and a grid. They also use the process of elimination to zero in on targets.
  • Hedbanz: Players activate background knowledge and categorize to ask questions that will narrow down options to arrive at an answer. It encourages targeted questioning and the ability to move from general to specific rather than haphazard guessing.
  • Apples to Apples: Participants take an adjective and consider scenarios where the word would be used to create a logical pairing from cards in the players’ hands. It requires vocabulary skills and understanding of context.
  • Trouble: Weigh pros and cons of moving the game piece out of the home base or advancing a piece that is already on the board. There is the opportunity to gauge risk and reward. We also really like the popping noise the plastic bubble makes when you press it to roll dice.
  • Boggle: This game tests a child’s bank of sight words as well as uses knowledge of all of the phonics rules and patterns. If a player is smart, he will locate a base word, then start to add rhyming words or endings (like IN to PIN to SPIN to SPINS) to generate bigger lists.
  • Connect 4: This game works well to help kids begin to anticipate different results of one move (cause and effect). A child can predict what will happen two or three moves out and adjust her choice. There is also a little bit of pattern sorting in this game too.
  • Monopoly: Budgeting, counting money, and making change!
  • Kanoodle: This pocket game contains colorful connected beads that are stacked into shapes. Players use lots of spatial thinking and logic to solve the puzzles.

kanoodle

Do you like to give games for birthday gifts? If so, what are good game choices?

One other tip– if you have games that your children do not play anymore, think about donating them to a classroom. I like to keep games in the back of my room for students who are early finishers or for a rainy day when we have indoor recess.

boggle

 

 

On the 9th Day, The Gifts Have Tiny Pieces

We are at the height of the tiny pieces toy phase at my house. I will admit that I am often the one who supports the decision to purchase the toy that comes with a gazillion tiny pieces (Lego, Playmobil, Calico Critter…) because I love miniature playsets. WARNING: All of the suggestions below have many tiny parts and may cause injury if you step on them in the middle of the night.

Does anybody have any other tiny playset ideas? Does anybody have any suggestions for protecting yourself from late night injuries?

Kitchen Littles: These are food playsets that are made of die cast metal and plastic. Kitchen Littles was discontinued then reintroduced. I can’t tell if it has been discontinued again, but some of the sets are available if you run a Google search. The size is perfect for Barbie (or other 12″ doll), and the ones we have are much better quality than the Mattel/Barbie kitchen sets.

Calico Critters: These are tiny animal families with clothes and playsets. Visit the Calico Critters website to locate retailers. You can find about everything you might need for life with tiny woodland creatures. It is like the Brambly Hedge picture books come to life. The detailed pieces that come with each playset are amazing, but they are tiny, and you need to apply stickers to a lot of the accessories when setting up the playset.

Lego: We have many Lego sets, but sometimes the Legos in a set are too specific for building creatively. This year, I am visiting the online Pick a Brick store to purchase a generic set of Lego bricks that can be used to build anything we want. Lego used to have a DESIGN byME service where you could customize a Lego structure and then purchase the bricks needed to build your own design. That service has been discontinued but may be relaunched in the future.

Quadrilla: We found the Quadrilla marble sets a few years ago and have been adding supplemental tracks to it every few years. This is a great toy. The tracks are wooden and do not break easily. The sets come with track design suggestions, but it is very easy to build your own marble track.