It is a rare thing for me to be doling out parenting advice. I do ok and all, but I'm not exactly mother of the year. There is one thing I do that my kids love, I know is good for them, and it surprises a lot of my friends. I play games with my kids, their friends, and pretty much any kid who wants to. Do you remember, as a kid, asking you parental figure, an older sibling, aunt or uncle to play games with you, and they almost always said, "maybe later", or "go ask someone else"? I was the older sibling, my parents were divorced, my mom worked, aunts and uncles lived out of town...you get the picture...but I was always thrilled when Mom would play Uno or Mad Libs with us. I'm not saying I drop everything to play a game with my kids, and there are certainly games I save for once in awhile (Monopoly and Life are two such games - they just take too freaking long.) Generally, however, I will put aside what I am doing to play within the hour. It's even more fun since my son is older and picks games I enjoy, like Scrabble ( I have the super-cool, turntable edition. I love that game.) Anyway, here - from the ultimate game-playing mom - is a list of favorites and why:
1. Aggravation: this game was responsible for teaching my son to count. As they get older they learn to use strategy - especially if they are uber-competitive like my freak husband, who makes it his goal to knock as many people's marbles out as possible, regardless of whether he gets his marbles home or not.
2. Uno and Skipbo: Colors, numbers and matching. You can take the deck anywhere. And it's just good fun.
3. Scrabble and Scrabble Jr.: Really self explanatory. Probably the most played games here.
4. Yahtzee: Serious numbers and counting practice. Way to practice different combinations of numbers.
5. The Garden Game: I think this one is only available online, but it is a very cool and educational game. My dad got it for Monkeybutt's birthday 5 years ago when he showed an interest in gardening, and not only is it fun, but we have learned a ton. Composting, pests vs. beneficial animals, earth stewardship...there is so much to be learned. If you can find it, get it. I will say, though, it's a lot easier if your opponent can read - otherwise you spend a lot of time reading the cards aloud.
We've played Candyland, Life, Chutes and Ladders, etc. as well as one of the 6 different Trivial Pursuits (in teams, obviously) plenty of times, but these are the games we keep pulling out over and over. Give some of these a try - I'll bet your kids will surprise you by how smart they are and how much fun they can be.