Here are some of my favorite games that actively engage and reinforce some important skills. A few times a month I will share a game for you to consider playing with your children.
Brick by brick
“Brick by Brick challenges players to build a symmetrical brick wall by assembling five puzzle pieces that match the image on one of 60 challenge cards. Introduced in 1990, Brick by Brick is a fantastic spatial challenge that is still going strong!”
I recommend this game for children of all ages. Children love the 3D experience.
“PathWords combines the best of Tetris and Word Search. Choose a pre-set “challenge,” i.e. game board with letters already on it and then place the Tetris-like puzzle pieces over the letters so that each piece covers a complete word. Words can be spelled forward or backwards as long as the letters aren’t scrambled. The challenging game play certainly helps build visual acuity, logic, and reasoning.”
This would be a great game for our 4th and 5th graders!
Katamino Geometric Puzzle Game Description: “KATAMINO is a puzzle based on the 12 unique pentominoes that can be created by connecting five squares edge-to-edge to form various combinations. Katamino helps children understand basic concepts of geometry. Multiple puzzles with solutions that can be quite simple, or quite difficult! It can be a solitaire puzzle or strategic game with quick rounds for 2 players.”
New families who met me as part of the matriculation process this summer may remember this game. I set this game up for children while I talk to parents and answer their questions about the school and community. One of the things I enjoy, besides the fact that it stretches thinking and problem solving, is that it helps kids learn to persevere. This ability to “stick with it” is an important habit of the mind that helps students with numerous other challenging scenarios. I also like to admire the beautiful wooden construction. Use it with children as young as 4 and with adults as old as 100.
“You’ll be challenged and delighted in this game that confounds your ability to visualize and match patterns. Game cards specify different orange and blue puzzle shapes. You must create identical shapes by stacking orange pieces on top of blue pieces, or vice versa. This surprisingly tricky game will have you slapping your forehead in happy exasperation. Intermediate and expert levels offer more challenging fun with greater numbers of game pieces.”
Even our Kindergarteners in our morning program enjoyed either watching older students play or giving it a shot. Younger kids could also use the puzzle shapes to create patterns.
Qwirkle is as simple as matching colors and shapes, but this game also requires tactical maneuvers and well-planned strategy. Earn points by building rows and columns of blocks that share a common shape or color. Look for opportunities to score big by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces with matching attributes. The player with the most points wins!
This game explores the fun side of math and would be great for students as young as our Kindergarteners. We have a version of the game for our morning drop off program as another way to actively engage our students.
Lonpos is a logic game in which the player must fit a fixed number of beaded game pieces of various shapes, to fill a set area such as a rectangle (flat 2D plane) or pyramid (3D). The shapes used in Lonpos puzzles are similar to the shapes known as pentominoes. The game comes with a 48 page, full color, easy to use manual with 101 preset problems.
This game develops concentration, problem solving and spatial skills. I recommend this game for students as young as 5. Always start with the first problem to warm up the brain. Avoid the temptation to move up a level. What I appreciate is that there is very little to explain and this therefore helps players become independent players and thinkers. I am proud to say that I have done all 101 puzzles.
Abracadabra! Stir the game pieces in the cauldron with the magnetic wand, selecting numbers that create a math equation. Players earn one point for each black-ringed number token and two points for each gold-ringed jewel used in a successful equation. Games can be adjusted to the skill level of the players by including addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.
I recommend this game for grades 2 and above. Kids can only use the visible pieces in the cauldron so they need to plan carefully. Since the object is to gather as many tokens as possible kids are challenged to create long and varied equations.
Shut the box (Single or Double)
This classic box and dice game, is now available in a sturdy wooden double-player edition! Players compete by throwing their dice and covering the corresponding numbers (either the number itself or combinations of numbers adding up to the roll.) The player with the lowest score of open number wins!
I recommend this game for Kindergarten to 2nd grade. It’s a great game to help students identify numbers, subitize, count on, and deconstruct numbers up to 9. There is a single player version with numbers up to 12 that you might consider as well.