I’m Game for Building Connections With My Daughter!

Fun with Checkers and Connect Four

Yesterday, my daughter and I played a few rounds of checkers and connect four. Both games were my favorite to play when I was younger. I’d always excitedly say, “Smoke before fire!” There was something about going first that made me feel like I had an extra edge to win the game.

“You didn’t see that jump?” I asked my seven year old as we played checkers. “Aww man, I see it now,” she said as I jumped over her piece and removed it from the board. From that point on, Quinn put on her game face and was ready!

As we continued to play both checkers and connect four, I saw how serious Quinn became. Her lips curled slightly, and she squinted a little as she looked at the board determining her next move. She reminded me of myself.

In thinking about the concept and strategies of both games, a big part of them is keen observation. This made me think about life and how “it” will happen whether we’re paying attention or not. Overlooking one move or piece on the board can cause the entire game change course.

As the Coronavirus lockdown continues, I’m trying my best to be observant and focus on the positive side of life. I must be mindful of my moves not just for me but my daughter too.

All the best,

Tanya

It Might Seem Like All Fun & Games, But Kids Are More “Clued” in Than We Think!

“It was Scarlet with the lead pipe in the garage,” my daughter asserted. We both love playing games. I especially enjoy how it not only gives us quality time together but improves not just her critical thinking but mine too.

Clue was one of my favorite games to play with my sister when I was younger. While I was eager to introduce it to Quinn, I was a bit apprehensive because of the premise of the game: find out who committed the murder, with what and where? According to the box, it’s for ages eight and up, but after giving it some thought and discussing it with my six year old, we determined that she could handle it without the game being too much for her. Boy, was I right!

Though there were newly added rooms, and I had to relearn some of the basic rules, it took Quinn no time to catch on to the concept of Clue. She strategically went to the different rooms to cross off what places the murder didn’t happen, and paid close attention as her dad and I did the same so that she could rule out suspects.

As I determined what cards were in the clue envelope and eagerly awaited my turn, Quinn solved the crime! I was always amazed at how “clued” in she was. A part of me was pleasantly surprised, but then again, she’s always been good at critical thinking. Some people think children are too young to understand certain concepts or lack basic critical thinking skills, but oftentimes it is us adults who are clueless for doubting or underestimating the abilities of children. Time and time again, Quinn reminds me of how adults can learn so many lessons from children.

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons: The Big Monopoly on Fun & Games

The other day, I overheard someone saying that “Monopoly” is one of the worst board games ever. I responded jokingly, “How dare you!? That’s one of my all-time favorite games!” “It’s just too long of a game,” the person replied. I said, “But that’s the whole point. It’s just like life and is all about strategizing.”I used to play Monopoly for hours with my sister and brother. Luckily, my six year old feels the same way as me and can’t get enough of Monopoly Junior. I asked her what she likes about the game, and Quinn said, “I like buying properties and collecting rent, but I have to be smart so that I don’t run out of money paying other people rent.” What great life lesson some adults are still learning!

One time when we were shopping we saw an LOL version, and she asked me how many different Monopoly games are there. After doing a quick search, I was amazed to find out that there are 1,144 different versions! There’s a Fortnite version, Stranger Things, a Pizza version, Cheaters edition, the classic version, and the list goes on and on. Who says video games and electronic devices have the monopoly on fun? Some kids do like good old fashioned board games. It’s a great way to have family time, talk, sharpen those critical thinking skills and to address the importance of not being a sore loser or an overly gloating winner for both the kids and the adults.

All the best,

Tanya

Chuck E. Cheese’s, the Place Where a Kid Can Be a Kid? Kind of…

For a while, my daughter had been asking to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, so we finally went this past Wednesday on the “All You Can Play” in an hour day. I can vividly recall being so excited to go to Chuck E. Cheese as a child hoping to win tons of tickets to get that prize I longed for so much. Though I was happy to see that smile on my six year old’s face as she  won tickets in hopes of claiming her prizes too, as an adult, I had a different perspective.

Actually, I struggled a little with this all being “good fun” for kids. It was like a casino for kids. The atmosphere was full of pings, pongs and musical sounds as several children were glued in front of the gaming machines. Their eyes were entranced by the flashing lights and tickets spewing out of those machines for them to collect. “How many tickets do you think I have, Mommy?” Quinn asked me. “I’m not sure, but you have quite a lot,” I said.

When our hour of playing was up, Quinn eagerly headed to the ticket counting machine with no hesitation, but I observed some children who begged and pleaded with their caregivers or parents for more time or had tantrums if they couldn’t play longer.

I thought to myself, is this teaching young children how to gamble or planting that gambling seed, or is it just all in fun? Maybe I’m just too far removed from my fun days at Chuck E Cheese. I know I always had fun and loved the pizza too. Either way, I was happy to see my daughter having a good time and want to make sure she has fun just being a kid without me projecting my adult perceptions.

All the best,

Tanya

Zingo! Fun Telling Time with My Little Girl

“I got 8:35!” my daughter said as she placed the 35 minute card on to the proper place. I just love the “Zingo” spelling game I got for my daughter last year as does she. So when I saw that there was one teaching children how to tell time in a fun way, I quickly added it to my five year old’s Christmas wish list. The game has a similar set-up to the spelling version with double-sided cards. The green side uses digital and analog clocks, and the advanced red side uses only analog clocks. We played a few rounds of the game, and I was impressed with how quickly my daughter caught on and was trying to use just the analog side to tell time.

Actually, I think some adults who struggle with telling time could benefit from this game. During these cold months, if you are looking for a fun game to teach your child a helpful skill, Zingo Time Telling might be the perfect one for you!

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons of Winning & Losing: Fun & Games with My Little Girl

“Let’s play a different game!” my five year old insisted as she started putting away the “Connect Four” pieces. “Why?” I asked. To which she quickly replied, “You won the past two games!” Yesterday, we spent a few hours playing games from Hungry Hippos (a classic for me), Disney’s Surprise Slides, which is a variation of Shoots and Ladders, Who Shook Hook, Guess Who and a few others.

I can easily recall when I was younger having game day with my mom and my siblings. Though I enjoyed this family time, I often struggled with being a sore loser when we played “Sorry” or “Old Maid,” which I always seemed to be. It might have been the feeling that I’d never win, the hope that my mom would just let me win or even the occasional taunting from my siblings, but there were times when my eyes would fill with tears, and I’d utter those famous five words, “I don’t want to play anymore!”

Now that I’m older, losing isn’t necessarily easier to accept, but I am able to look at it through a different lens for the sake of my daughter. Though she handles losing much better than I did at her age, I can tell that it still upsets her. As we play games together, we laugh, have fun and hi five, there are also opportunities to discuss life as it correlates to games.

I told her that we all need to learn how to lose and win gracefully. We also discussed how we all can improve with practice, as she did with “Connect Four. When we first started playing when she was around three years old, she was still learning the concept of the game of getting four in a row, and diagonal was definitely tricky. Yesterday, she was really strategizing by making sure to block me and really gave me a run for my money. She legitimately won quite a few times without me going easy on her and just needs to balance blocking me while keeping an eye out for how she can get four in a row simultaneously.

Quinnie’s technique actually made me think about how people, sometimes focus so much on blocking others from winning that they still wind up losing because they aren’t paying attention when the opportunities for them to win present themselves. We went over how her strategy will continue to improve and played a few more rounds before moving on to “Hungry Hippos.”

I am so proud of her for her willingness to keep playing even when she was not winning. She even learned with Disney’s Surprise Slides that it’s not over until it’s over. She was far ahead on the board, and I managed to catch up with her. She then kept saying with each turn, “I don’t think I’m going to win!” But she still kept playing. I was on her tail, when she spun the red Mickey Mouse to win the game. A big smile was plastered on her face as she said, “I can’t believe it! I won! I thought I was losing for sure!” That’s when I told her, “Sometimes that’s how it goes! You think you’re going to lose, but you still win. That’s why you always keep trying your best!” We learn so much from life but sometimes more from games reflecting how life works.

All the best,

Tanya

Terrific Toy Tuesday: Say Word!? There’s a Scrabble Junior for Preschoolers!

Six months ago I posted a blog entry about the game Scrabble and my daughter’s fascination with it. Then, a couple of months ago I stumbled upon Scrabble Junior. Though the game says, “Ages five and up,” I figured I’d still get it for my, now, three and a half year old because it was a good alternative to the version for older children and adults. As soon as she saw the game, she loved it and was excited to play. Sometimes, I modify instructions to games or let Quinn come up with her own way of playing when it is meant for older children, but she was actually able to follow the instructions.

You may be wondering, “Wow, your three and a half year old can spell?!” No, not exactly. This awesome game has a double-sided board. For younger children, the words are already spelled out. It is a matter of the players selecting the tiles to put on top of the words. The player earns points and gets to move across the board as he or she spells the complete word with the tiles selected. Whereas the other side of the board is played in the more traditional Scrabble way for  when Quinn begins learning how to spell and wants more of a challenge.

At first, I figured I’d hold back on spelling the words out to build up Quinn’s confidence, but I soon realized that I did not have to do this because she actually is good at this game and caught on to the concept quickly. She was even able to use some of the pictures to figure out what the words spelled. I just love games that are fun and educational, and Scrabble Junior fits that description. It’s a great way to not only get my daughter even more interested in learning to spell and eager to learn but for us to have a great time together! How did I not know that Scrabble Junior existed? Well, I know now and highly recommend this game, which is about $14 or cheaper if you get it on sale, to anyone with a young child who is interested in spelling or reading or if you are looking for a fun way to get a child interested and eager to spell and read.

All the best,

Tanya