Benefits Of Board Games & 5 Great Games For Young Families

board games for preschool Every year we leave our yellow farm-ish house and get on the road to Oregon and go to the beach. While we are at the beach house board games are king! I think I have played 43 games of Candy Land so far and by the time this post is published it will be well past 60.

Board games are packed with lessons and the best part is that they don’t feel like they are so children who resist learning for learning’s sake are less likely to resist and jump in.They give families a chance to play together and for children to test the waters of competition in a safe place. They offer parents a chance to model losing gracefully which is not a skill children are naturally born with. I know that my son especially has been working on this for ages. Some intense children need more time and practice and even though at times the urge to pack up the game and scold them for being a poor sport may trump teaching them anything I encourage you to keep at it. Intense children take board games seriously and in my experience calm modeling goes further than it feels like and will pay off with persistence.

What children are learning while they play depends on the game but some more general skills and benefits of board games include  :

  • Taking turns.
  • Language development. The repetition in games offers parents many options to model proper pronunciation and for children to practice.
  • Developing fine motor  and hand eye coordination skills while moving small pieces.
  • Counting is part of most games.
  • Following a static set of directions – the rules don’t change.
  • Controlling emotions.
  • Connecting with those they play with.

Here are 10 of our favorite games with the main skills children learn while playing. The games are linked to amazon.com with affiliate links. The ages are the ages in which my children have really loved these games.

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Cookin’ Cookies Card Game Was the very first game we played as a family. The object of the game is to gather the ingredients you need to make your cookie recipe while avoiding the dreaded rotten eggs. This game works on hand eye coordination as players have to slap the card they want with their spoon. It also works on matching the cards to the images on the recipe which is an early literacy skill that evolves from matching images to letters and then eventually words. My kids both love this game.  3+

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Battleship  is a great game for school age children and requires players use reason and logic to play. Younger children can make wild guesses but I suggest you play with your child a few times explaining why you make the choices explaining the logic and strategy behind your decisions. It also exposes kids to grids and coordinates.  5+

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Connect 4  is a favorite of mine and I like to adapt it ( for spelling here) but just as it is this game teaches patterning and forces players to think strategically looking at all their and well as their opponents possible moves. I love watching children stare at the game you can see their wheels turning! 4+

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Candy Land is the perfect preschool game. It teaches color recognition but my favorite thing about it is that it helps teach children that there are blocks in the road sometimes. When a player is sent back that gives you and your child a great ( and not really painful) way to address being disappointed. I know it sounds funny to hear someone say ” Practice losing” but this game is a kind way to work on that. I also like to switch up the language used for the colors calling out ” Rojo” or ” Jaune” etc… to mix it up!  3+

gamecup

eeboo The Cupcake Game is another baking themed game where players are trying to gather all the ingredients required for making their specific flavor of cupcake. I adore this game because it’s so pretty! What I like about this one is that all the pieces aren’t identical and it requires that children think about which pieces fit!  The box says ages 5+ but my daughter played this easily at 3.

 

 

Super Simple Letter Sounds Matching

letter sounds hands on activity You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you are working on early literacy skills ( or any other type of skill) with your kids. You can make simple activities like this letter sounds matching and fit them in between coming inside from playing and sitting down for lunch. These are little snippets of important learning that add up but don’t overwhelm. In a classroom I would have this as an option in a center and encourage but never force children to try it. Start with only a few sounds and as your child masters matching them add some more. I always have a few “safe” options. These are sounds you know your child knows and will work to boost confidence and add some definite success to an otherwise challenging endeavor.

My daughter cracked me up with this activity… you’ll see why. When children go off book like she did run with it if you can.

Gather your materials. You will need some thick paper ( but a chalk board, white board, or even a recycled cereal box would do), a marker, and some recognizable animal toys. easy letter sound activity for preK

Start by gathering the toys and writing out the letter that corresponds with the first sound in the word.  That’s it for set up. Pretty simple eh? I did two sheets one with upper and one with lowercase letters. You can also mix up the letters all on one page. Once children are at this point of matching sounds they need to be focusing a lot of attention on lowercase letters. I let my daughter decide which sheet she started with. letter sound match with toys

Add your letter sound detective ( that’s what she called herself) and explain that all the animals are looking for their place on the paper. letter sound matching game for early literacy developmentThey belong on the letter that says the same sound as the first sound in their name.  We did one together and she was off on her own. The only thing that made her pause was the walrus. ” Is this a seal or a walrus?” letter sound activity for children

Since she flew through it I gave her the second sheet. Then our babysitter arrived and my sweet and sassy little one turned on the performance. For the 2nd round of matching she decided to name the animals with first names and at first I was trying to get her back on track until I realized the names she was creating matched the letters on the page. Whoa!! She wasn’t just matching anymore now she was creating and being really funny so our giggles fueled her even more. letter sound activity for children matching game

Awesome learning from an activity that took all of 2 minutes to set up.

Here are more than 50 more simple letter ideas for kids.

50 awesome alphabet activities

Link Up! Summer Activities For Kids

rp_link-learn-2014-455x1781111.jpgIf your summer is as busy as mine let me keep this short! Add your awesome and amazing summer activities for kids to this linky and share your rad blogs with my readers.

I say this all the time but please please link up if you blog. We love new blogs to check out. Don’t be shy.

Also please check out our Pinterest Boards and Facebook Page for more great ideas and Instagram for a little look into everything I do that doesn’t get a spot on this blog ( hint: more pictures of my kids).



Books About Cancer For Kids

books about cancer for kids I know this isn’t a happy subject but I am getting more and more requests for books written for children about cancer. A few days ago I was scrolling through my facebook feed and four statuses in a row were about cancer written by friends. There is no six degrees of separation when it comes to cancer. I hope you never need to read any of these books, I hope this list is the least used list on my site, but it’s here if you need it. This is not a definitive list, please if you know any books about cancer for kids share the title in comments.

Some of these books explain treatment and are hopeful and some include death and grief. I have noted the end result of the cancer in each review because I want to help you find the right book. All titles are linked to amazon.com with affiliate links.

you are the best medicine

You Are the Best Medicine by Julie Aigner Clark stands out among these books. The book follows a mom sharing her new cancer diagnosis with her young daughter saying why she is both happy and sad about it. She relates everything back to happier times to put a positive spin on the challenges.  The memories she has of time spent with her daughter and all the times she is still looking forward to will be the best medicine. Everything about this book is gentle and soft and ultimately positive. The book speaks of getting better like it’s a given and while emotions are absolutely discussed , loss is not part of this book. Its goal is reassurance and comfort.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is for kids – but much bigger kids . This YA novel is witty and funny and yes about cancer. It will also probably make you cry. It’s a love story about two teenagers who meet at a support group for kids with cancer. I don’t want to ruin it for you ( and I do encourage adults to read it, it’s not typical YA) but it captures the essence of cancer not being fair. It also captures the feelings parents might have when their child is very very ill. Many of the adults that I knew who read this book cried because they related to the main characters but I teared up reading dialog between Hazel and her parents. Great book for young teens and older.

That Summer

That Summer by Tony Johnson. While reading this I didn’t even try to conceal my tears, I wasn’t crying I was sobbing.  The book is about the summer that one little boy watches his brother Joey get sick and die from Cancer.  The author does a masterful job at relating grief, and the sadness of watching someone you love and don’t expect to die, get weak and leave you.  As Joey’s condition worsens he learns to quilt and ultimately it’s his brother who finishes his quilt. I can’t rave about this book enough it simply makes the reader get it, as much as you can without ever living this particular nightmare. The line that haunted me was ” I learned a lot that summer, how to grin when your heart is in shreds..” that was the line that forced me into the “ugly cry”. This book would be incredibly useful for children who are grieving and feel like they are treading these waters alone.

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Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! by Sherry North is a sweet book about a little boy and his dog. While petting Champ Cody he finds a lump and it turns out to be cancer. Cody takes very good care of Champ while she goes through her chemo and she returns the favor when he is hurt. The story is touching and hits a few great points but the real gem are the back pages of the book that include facts and even quizzes about cancer.

punk wig

Punk Wig by Lori Ries is about as funny and cute as any book about cancer can be. In the book a little boy explains that his mom has cancer and as she goes through chemotherapy and looses her hair they go shopping for a wig. The wig she ends up choosing is a punk one that looks nothing like her hair before she lost it. The banter between mom and son is adorable and it explains cancer as ” alien blobs” and chemo as “zapping ” them with medicine. The overall feeling of this book is upbeat and even the parts where the mom is obviously sick have little bits of whimsy thrown in. This is a good pic for preschoolers and for children curious about why a friend or acquaintance has lost their hair during chemotherapy. In this book the mom goes into remission and it’s explained as all the alien blobs have gone away and she gives her punk wig to her son for dress up.

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And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing by Amy Rovere is a wonderful book about loss and grieving. The story follows two children as the navigate the loss of their mother to cancer. So many issues are addressed in this book. Issues include well meaning but hurtful comments, anger towards the deceased, and fear of forgetting what they looked like. So much of this book deals with the anger that accompanies grief and how unfair it all is. There are no saccharine answers or platitudes, just real honest and frank discussions about the validity of emotions. The text is long and the target audience would be school age and up.

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Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo by Eileen Sutherland is a simplistic rhyming explanation of breast cancer for young children. It keeps the facts simple and explains what is going to happen like being tired, and loosing her hair but it also says that she will feel great and be able to play chase again when all the treatments are done. The illustrations are all children’s artwork and they help to balance the serious subject.

Hair For Mama

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem. In the end the mom is still fighting cancer.

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Where’s Mom’s Hair? by Debbie Watters is a documentary in a book. The family consists of a mom , dad and two boys and mom has cancer. They throw a bog party for her when her hair starts falling out and everyone gets their hair cropped super short. The book then is less of a party while she is going through chemo but ends on a high note with new hair and seemingly great health. The book is told from the perspective of one of her children and talks about her being sick but never about the fear of loosing her to the disease. I loved the photos in this book because it felt like you were right there with this family.

 

50+ Alphabet Activities For Kids

50 awesome alphabet activitiesAlphabet activities aren’t just fun, they are important too. When children are familiar with letters the task of learning to read is much more accessible. Familiarity breeds comfort and we want our kids to be comfortable with letters, their sounds, and shapes. There is no need to drill your child but having fun with letters is a great way to introduce and master letter recognition, letter sounds, and other early literacy skills. Here are more than 50 fantastic alphabet activities for kids from toddlers to early elementary school.

Outside Alphabet Activities

outside alphabet activities

Outdoor Alphabet Hunt
Sidewalk Chalk Letter Activities
Alphabet Hunt On The Town
Gardening For Letters
Letter Hose Down
Letters On The Go
Zoo Magnets

Sensory & Playdough Alphabet Activities

sensory alphabet activities

Stamp & Match
Salt Tray Letters
Alphabet Cookies
Shell Letters
Alphabet Sensory Tub
Alphabet Playdough
Touch & Feel Alphabet

Fine Motor Alphabet Activities

fine motor alphabet

Leaf Letter Match
Letter Lacing
Letter Constellations
Glue Tracing Letters
Button Letters
Sandpaper Letters
Rainbow Letters
Alphabet Christmas Tree
Alphabet Bead Spelling
Peel & Pick Alphabet Apple Tree
Cork Board Letters
Alphabet Wall
Alphabet Bead Activities

Creative Alphabet Crafts & Activities

creative alphabet

Painting with Letter Cookie Cutters
Magic Letters
Family Letters
Custom Alphabet Book – Fast
Custom Alphabet Book – Hardcover Photo Book
Easy Letter Rubbings
Disappearing Letters
Letter Watermelons
Alphabet Flower Garden Mural
Letter Monsters
Sparkly Alphabet Canvas
Pumpkin Patch Letter Match
Alphabet Peg Dolls
Alphabet Mail Pretend Play
Letter Snowman
Recycled Alphabet Craft
Letter Pizza
Alphabet Place Mat

 

Gross Motor Alphabet Activities

gross motor alphabet
Move & Groove Letter Game
Build with Letters
Word Scavenger Hunt with Letter Stones

 

Letter Matching & Sorting Activities

Alphabet Sorting

Letter Sorting Tree
Pound The Sound Letter Sound Activity
Letter Road Upper & Lowercase Sorting
Easter Egg Letter Match
Match and Unlock Letter Sounds
Car and Driver – Letter Match
Post Office Letter Sorting

 

Letter Memory and Other Alphabet Games

alphabet games
Name Game
Fishing For Letters
Letter Memory Game
Letter Dominoes
Jar Lid Letter Memory