Wednesday 19 April 2017

The benefits of table top games with pre-schoolers

Since starting blogging i have been fortunate to work with Drumond Park on reviews and giveaways for their games, they always have an educational side to them and are always real fun for all the family, bringing some much needed family fun time to our busy lives. Working in childcare in a pre-school  setting it obviously interested me when they sent me the following feature to include which reinforces the importance of play in early years, to help develop the personal and social development, mathematical development, problem solving, and broaden their knowledge of the world around them. A great read and addition to the evidence already available to show how important play is to pre-school children. 

Why playing table-top games with pre-schoolers
could help them to succeed in life

A mountain of research exists to underpin the general consensus that active play from an early age is an essential element of a pleasurable, fulfilling childhood; and no more so than with a humble table-top or board game.

But delve a little deeper, and it’s soon clear that there’s so much more going on beneath the surface, even with the simplest of games…

Learning to play games from an early age has long been thought to help children to grow and strengthen their inner cores – boosting a sense of joie de vivre, resilience, self-discipline, honesty, courage, and even kindness.  Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of our children’s development is nurturing their ability to get on well with others – helping them to develop stronger, more flexible backbones and strengthen their character traits by thoughtful encouragement and reinforcement from older family members and peers.

There’s nothing like good old face-to-face interaction, particularly in the light of the phenomenal growth of the internet era, social networking, electronic games and the burgeoning virtual world with its myriad temptations.  Moving away from these ubiquitous screens and playing simple games designed for their age groups and a little above will promote invaluable social skills such as verbal communication, the concepts of sharing, waiting and taking turns – all while simply enjoying well-mannered and positive interaction with others.

Playing games with older role models will also teach our little ones how to win or lose with grace, good manners and humility - while on a more practical basis, will also encourage them to delve into a plethora of other essential attributes.  Without even knowing it, their playtime will encourage them to:

·                Learn colour recognition and numbers
·                Identify patterns for increased visual acuity
·                Plan and think ahead
·                Predict the outcome of various tactics of play
·                Learn from their experience
·                Learn to work with their impulses through focus and self-control
·                Strengthen their problem solving ability and logical thinking
·                Learn that practice can and will improve their performance.

Imagine – all that from a simple board or table-top game!  The first and possibly hardest step of all is to realise that in many cases, it’s up to us as parents to make time for our children; to channel our inner child, take OUR turn and join in!  Spending unhurried, enjoyable time together is one of the greatest joys between parents and children - but is so often brushed aside, when it’s actually the very thing your child wants and needs more than anything. 

Some fascinating games to try from the experts – Drumond Park!

Wordsearch Junior (rrp £22.99) brings Drumond Park’s unique and much loved Wordsearch ‘race’ game format to the latest generation of youngsters.  It’s based on the same clever ‘turntable’ design of the original Classic Wordsearch! game and children of all ages will have hours of fun playing - while getting to grips with recognition, pattern and language. 
The nine double-sided circular puzzle disks have three different levels of play, covering a myriad of topics. Little ones can dive in straight away, searching for images and patterns on the starter-level blue picture pattern cards. The red level takes players through the picture hint cards – finding words with picture hints to help them.  Using the green word-only cards, they’ll be looking for simple consonant clusters and vowel combinations - increasing their reading skills without even realising it!

The immensely popular Magic Tooth Fairy game (rrp £19.99) brings the wonder of ‘magic’ to board games.  Players race to be the first to lose all their teeth and get the Tooth Fairy to swap them for gold coins. When they land on a ‘Go To Bed’ space, they put their tooth under the Magic Bed’s pillow, plunge the Tooth Fairy wand… and hey presto, when they lift up the pillow, the tooth has gone and in its place - a shiny gold coin! 
With its Magic Bed – complete with a pillow compartment for hiding the teeth that you’ve ‘lost’ while playing the game - plus plastic mouths and pull-out teeth, the Magic Tooth Fairy game is like no other. It creates a sense of wonder – and that takes some doing with the kids of today.

The DINO BITE monster action game (rrp £22.99) is fearsome fun for everyone! A gruesome T-Rex dinosaur is perched on top of a dino nest. A large green leaf covers a collection of twenty tiny, helpless blue, red, yellow and green baby dinosaurs who have been stolen from another dinosaur’s nest and are awaiting their fate. 
Each player takes it in turn to rescue an egg from the nest with the tweezers supplied.  With each roll of the coloured dice the players carefully lift the edge of the leaf, steadily move their tweezers into the nest, grasp the baby and lift it out to safety!  Or it’s fine for younger players to use their fingers instead of the tweezers, if they like.  But beware… the Dino will try to grab you, roaring out loud and lunging terrifyingly forward!  This game is perfect for colour recognition, dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination.

The simple and characterful Barbecue Party action game (rrp £19.99) is a terrific mix of anticipation and nerve as the younger members of the family test their dexterity, doing their best to oh-so-carefully place different foods on the BBQ grill.  They choose a card and place the matching bug-eyed plastic item onto the grill - using either their fingers or the tongs supplied.  Or if it’s there already, they take it off and win that card.
Sounds easy?  Maybe… but when the grill is inadvertently shaken or the load gets too heavy under the weight of all that food, the rack dramatically catapults everything off into the air and the player forfeits a card.  

The unique Gee Whizz magic set (rrp £19.99) is a dazzling collection of amazing activities and tremendous tricks for little ones, providing a fascinating, easily accessible and confidence-giving introduction to the genre.  It’s jam packed with a fabulous array of easy illusions that are perfect for children to master - while stimulating their natural curiosity for discovery and the world around them. 
The compendium comes with clear, comprehensive pictorial instructions - and with just a little guidance from an adult or older sibling, children will quickly master the basics of putting on a magic show - such as pouring coins out of an empty saucer, or magically ‘growing’ a flower from the end of a magic wand. Children’s inquisitiveness knows no bounds, and suddenly you’ll find that they have taken simple tricks on board - by themselves!

Playing games – whether table top games, board games or role play - is an excellent, easy and absorbing way to spend multi-generational time together while bolstering self-esteem and confidence, and providing a rich seam of learning opportunities alongside a host of social and life skills. 

Keep an eye out in the next couple of days for my review and giveaway of the Dino Bite game, a great family game for all. 

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