Do you have a board game that is falling apart at the seams, missing pieces, or downright mutilated? Quality-made games for kids have gotten increasingly shoddy in construction and many are short lived. Even those games my children enjoy and could last years fall apart long before we are disinterested. (With 4 kids, I think I have bought Candyland and Chutes and Ladders at least 4 times each!) But worse than durability, some games offer no learning value whatsoever.
Not all games are geared toward learning, but fun. That’s why they are called games, right? But, it sure is nice when the activity my child enjoys also yields intellectual value, specifically in reading and spelling! Below are four great games that offer reading and spelling concentration, and keep it fun (even for adults!) More specifically, these games are more indestructible than most and grow with your child!
Webkinz – Quizzy’s Word Challenge
Though it is not a new fad, kids love Webkinz stuffed animals and the website that goes with them. Initially, parent’s likely help their child set up a Webkinz account. Then, spend a little time explaining it to their little ones. But in short order, parents may turn these web pages over to their computer savvy kids to explore. What a parent may never realize is that some games offered are much better than others. One such game in the Arcade is “Quizzy’s Word Challenge.”
Quizzy’s Word Challenge is a game that allows the child to spell words (3-letters and up) from a square matrix of letters. Each word they spell and submit earns them points. Anyone could do this all day long; however there is a challenging component because some letters are worth more points when used. In addition, the placement of letters on the grid can also generate more points if used. Fairly easy to understand, kids 7 and under may need help discerning the game is more than making 3 letter words – and more fun than first assumed.
If your child has a Webkinz account, look for this game in the arcade and sit with your child five minutes to explain it. This will be time well spent as they get the hang of it, all the while encouraging correct spelling, longer words and more Kinzcash! If you haven’t already, check out Webkinz for yourself: http://www.webkinz.com/
Though almost every game can be found on line these days, learning takes place best when a parent is engaged and kids aren’t sitting (lifeless) in front of a computer. So, though the next few options can be played alone and free online, it is worth the investment to get that quality, hands-on time. Let’s take a look at a couple games worth every penny that also encourage reading and spelling.
Smartmouth is a game of speed that is a great place to start for those just learning letter sounds (Preschool – Kindergarten) because it focuses on the first and last letters of words. Older children may bore of this game more quickly that other games listed, but if your child is struggling with letter sounds and placement, this is a total winner to bring focus to letter order. Plus, it is self contained and that is a WIN for any parent!
Watch this short video offered by Target to see game play: http://www.target.com/Smart-Mouth-Game/dp/B00005MP02
Boggle (Game ideas beyond the directions in the box!)
Boggle is a timeless classic game that can be purchased anywhere games are sold and be used more ways than the game directions describe. Though I recall playing this game with my sisters and dad all the way through high school, a 4 year old can grasp the concept of forming words, even though small. This game also goes way beyond the box with its useful learning pieces, if you think out of the box…
Shaking the box full of lettered dice, or flipping the 3 minute timer is fun but, Boggle pieces can bring letters to life and be used with children as young as 2 or 3 with supervision. Holding the dice and turning it to reveal different letters can jump start letter recognition very early. From there, work with your child to line up letters of small words on the table, or spell their own name with the blocks. As children enter school, these dice can also be used to form and practice spelling words; try jumbling them for kids to place in order. (Don’t forget to use the sand timer as kids learn to accomplish easier tasks – faster!)
Purchase Boggle: http://www.amazon.com/Hasbro-00384-Boggle/dp/B00000IWCZ
Scrabble has more pieces than Boggle, however, there are several more contained versions of the game that have great appeal to younger kids (for example: Scrabble Junior or Travel Scrabble.)
Hasbro Website for Scrabble Options: http://www.hasbro.com/scrabble/en_US/shop/browse.cfm
The tiles can be used to throughout Elementary School to practice spelling words and all the things described earlier for Boggle dice. Ultimately, this game has great appeal for all ages.
For children that love to read, these games ARE fun. For reluctant readers, these games MAKE learning fun. Remember, kids tend to get excited most when parents are excited. Playing just a few games with them the first time around, and enjoying it (or pretending – ha) is a great way to spark a kids interest. Before you know it, they will be playing on their own and practicing reading and spelling for fun.