Reader Question and Answer about Games to Support Development
One reader, Michele Rammien, wrote in with a great question that I thought would be helpful to many readers so am putting her question and my response into a post.
Michele wrote: I love these emails! They have been informative & helpful. I may have missed it somewhere but do you have suggestions of games to play with 5 & 6 year olds that relate to these development stages? Looking for something fun so my son does not think it is learning.
My Response: Thank you and I appreciate your great question! Yes, there are so many activities and games for five and six year olds that help with their developmental work and are disguised in fun. Here are some I use with my son:
Alphabet or Word Treasure Hunt:
Developmental Learning: letter or word recognition, love of surprises and puzzles, desire for mastery and getting there first
This game is a good indoor activity. Write each letter of the alphabet on single index cards, one per card. Tape a letter or word card to an object that begins with that letter. For example, the “P” card gets taped to the piano. Place the cards all over the house. You can make the placement of the cards easy or hard to find depending upon what kind of challenge you anticipate will be enjoyable for your child. Give your child a full alphabet as a reference throughout the game and also a gift bag to collect the cards. Now hunt! Each time your child finds a card, in order to “claim the prize,” (a.k.a. put it in his gift bag) he must name the letter (or word). If he cannot, no problem. Look and sing through his alphabet reference and find it together. My son loves this game and when he collects all of the cards, the first thing out of his mouth is “Let’s do it again!”
Developmental Learning: balance, turn taking, learning left from right
Remember this game? Fives and sixes love this game. Throw the matt out on the floor. Have each player take turns with their moves versus all moving at once to get practice with turn taking. An adult will likely need to spin and provide support with left and right directions. Giggles always ensue. In fact, there’s a hot game going on outside my window as I write this post.
Developmental Learning: understanding rules, practicing manners, communication, assertiveness
Teddy Bear Tea Party:
Have your child set the table with your help for the party. When ready, invite his favorite stuffed animals to join you. Let your child lead the pretend play. Encourage him to teach his guests the rules of the party. Have him serve each of his guests and perhaps, suggest a toast or a speech.
Again, let your child lead the play script. Help him get a school room set up with chairs and a chalkboard (even though classrooms don’t contain these anymore!), favorite books and other supplies. His students can be you, a sibling and his stuffed friends. Encourage him to teach the rules of the class first and then teach whatever he’d like.
“If a Person Came to Visit…”:
Developmental Learning: perspective taking, empathy
This is a great one to play at mealtime or during a car ride. No supplies necessary. Players take turns throwing out names of familiar people – friends, family, neighbors or famous people. “If your kindergarten teacher came to dinner, what would she say?” “If Grammy came to dinner, what would she say?” Do a full circle go around and have each player pretend they are talking like “Grammy.” “Oh, this dinner is lovely, dear!”
For times when you have a group of kids, try out “Let the Games Begin!” for practicing cooperation and communication.
If you try out others, please send them to me so I can share! Thanks again for writing in and happy game playing!