Many parents figure out pretty quickly that their children don’t want to sit at a desk all day and do worksheets. Yet, how are you supposed to teach beginning counting and reading skills without using a worksheet or textbook? One of the best ways is to use educational toys and games.
In my last article, I talked about great toys that encourage imagination, learning, fine motor skills and fun. Today I wanted to mention some of the best educational games on the market. You can learn as much – sometimes MORE – from games as you can from any formal preschool or kindergarten curriculum.
Educational games encourage early reading skills, math skills (numbers, counting, skipping, etc.), and other skills. Children often learn or reinforce colors, shape and sequencing skills. They also encourage children to practice teamwork, taking turns, and learning to lose (and win) graciously.
Here are some great games for preschool / kindergarten age children:
– Hullabaloo (One neat thing about this game is that it can be played alone. This game makes a great gift and a wonderful game for ALL families.)
– Memory Match
– Candy Land
– Hungry Hungry Hippos
– Mr. Potato Head
– Hot Potato
– Let’s Go Fishing (I even like this one!)
– Chutes and Ladders
– Hi Ho Cherry-O!
– Two by Two Matching Game (Christian resource / game)
– In a Manger Matching Game (Christian resource / game)
– Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks
– Dominoes (You don’t have to play the game!! Just play with the Dominoes. J Children can learn to count the dots (math), match squares that are alike (math), make Domino trains (fine motor skills), etc.)
– Wooden Puzzles
– Puzzles in general
– Wooden maps of the United States and the World (My youngest son was always fascinated with the United States map and could completely put together a US wooden map in about three minutes when he was four years old.)
– Pattern blocks
– Bean Bag Toss
If your child likes to write, I would also encourage maze books. There are some really good ones from the following publishers:
– KUMON books (These are fabulous – our favorite by far! They have maze books on all sorts of topics.)
– Carson-Dellosa Publishing
– Dover Publications (They have little maze books that are VERY simple for even the youngest child.)
I’d also recommend the I Spy books to help young children develop visual acuity. These aren’t really games, but they’re kind of like game books.
Also, I don’t normally recommend electronic materials for young children, but if you really want to introduce electronic games to your preschool / kindergarten age child, you can’t go wrong with Leap Frog and Leap Pad products, including Leapsters. These are quite educational, but like with any electronic materials, it’s probably best to use them as rewards for good behavior.
Finally, remember that even if something is “educational,” it can be used as a reward for children. It’s all perspective. Young children in particular don’t need to know that most children are forced to do educational activities. If you train your child that games, books, and even electronic toys are rewards, then that’s what they will think. Soon, they’ll be asking to “play” math every day!