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Archive for February, 2009

Greetings!  We are contacting Stamford area PTOs to invite families to come to our seminar in March.  Please feel free to ask if you have any questions or just drop us a note at beyondcandyland@gmail.com.  We are hoping to see you in a few weeks!

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Beyond Candy Land 

A free family boardgaming seminar and demonstration.

Saturday, March 21st 1:00 to 5:00 PM

Stamford Holiday Inn Hotel

700 E. Main Street

 

This open session at the Connecticut Convention will feature boardgames for families with young children.  The session will be hands on teaching and discussion of the wide variety of boardgames that exist for young children that adults will also enjoy.

You will be able to try games out with your children, local experts will be available to teach the games and discuss the wide variety of educational values of modern boardgames.

This is a hands-on demonstration of several dozen top games from some of the best game designers around.  You will be able to spend time with your children playing these games to help figure out your personal and family tastes in games.

Please register with beyondcandyland@gmail.com

 

This is not a drop-off program.  Children must be accompanied by adults. 

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We have added a page for our daughter, Simone, to comment about the games we play together and what she likes about them.  You can see her page in the links section under Game Reviews.

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I think this is the most important and hardest question to answer about games that are fun for the adults as well as the children.  What works for one family might not work for a different one, but there are probably some ways to lead you to a good game instead of one that may be dull or worse.

The critical issue for us to enjoy a game with our children is the ability to make decisions in the game.  We don’t want to just roll a die and then move a pawn, or flip over a card and move a pawn.  We want to be able to determine what will happen to our game and be allowed to create our own experience playing the game.  Plus, decision making is a critical skill that we want to teach our children.  This is an easy way to teach cause and effect and for children to see that their actions have consequences.  There are many games out there that don’t actually require humans to play them.

We want to be able to assess what is happening in a game, make a decision about what is the best course of action and then try it out.  Even simple memory games like Chicken Cha Cha Cha allow for interaction with the game.  The more attention you give the game, the better you will do at it.  In Gulo Gulo you have to decide to go for a known postion or try your luck at at unknown which could make your next action near impossible to complete.  Even making bad decisions in a game is more fun than having a card dictate everything you need to do!

Being a teacher, I also like my games to teach my children something.  Even a small something is better than nothing and much better than sitting in front of the TV.  I look for games that require certain skills and then reduce the rules to their essence and slowly teach the game until they are able to play it with all of the rules in place.  Doing this allows us to play more complicated games with both children, the younger one learning the basic rules while the older one mastering the complete rules.

Then there are games that I find because they explicity teach a skill I want my children to have.  My 2nd grader was struggling with remembering US geography, so we bought 10 Days in the USA.  The game map is a map of the US and you have to be able to travel around the country by connecting states together.  When we wanted to build on her phonics skills we got Unspeakable Words.  This is not really geared towards a young child, but the premise is to make words out of a hand of cards.  We would also all use the words in silly sentences for some extra fun.  When we wanted to reinforce some basic math facts, we found Cowabunga!  What do surfing cows have to do with math?  You have to change the height of a wave by playing numbered cards and trying to knock the other player’s cows off the wave.

There are other, smaller reasons that make a game good for us.  We want games with wooden painted pieces.  We like high quality art work and publishing results.  It’s no fun to play a game that breaks easily or the pieces break with a typical active toddler.  Rules need to be fairly simple or able to be simplified as our needs fit.

We also like themes.  In Viva Topo! you have several mice trying to get cheese and escape a hungry kitty.  The theme is enjoyable and it carries the game.  The mice have to run, dependent upon a die roll and can ditch into holes in the wall to get to some cheese.  The more cheese you get, the happier your mouse!  The children love the idea and tend to make squealing noises and cat sounds when moving their meeples about.

Evaluating a game is tricky.  You can find a lot of information at BoargameGeek.com, but you might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it.  Read reviews on manufactorer’s website or on the store site.  If you are in an actual store, talk to the owner and see what they know.  You are better off at a small store than a giant conglomerate as the small shops know their wares better and aren’t afraid to sell something made by a smaller company.

You can always ask us too!

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Before we had kids, we enjoyed European style board games like Settlers of Catan as a fun way to socialize with our friends. When we had kids of our own, we started to explore and were amazed at the wide variety of family games we found!

The variety of games that exist out there that are age and developmentally appropriate for very young children (ages 3-5) is astounding.  Our kids, like many other kids at these ages, often had a difficult time coping with losing a game.  We found that many games for pre-readers are cooperative in nature –  there is a group goal that each player is working toward and when that is met, all the players win.  Sometimes the game wins instead of the players, and that also teaches a valuable lesson in sportsmanship.

There are games that make for hours of fun on rainy afternoons, and games that only take a few minutes to play.   There are games that help with early literacy, reading fluency, numeracy as well as the social skills children need in school.  Teamwork, turn taking, being a gracious winner and congratulatory loser are all skills that are reinforced every time you play a game with a child.

Best of all, we found games that are fun for us as well as the children.  You won’t have to roll your eyes when your child asks to play some of these more modern games.   Adults are allowed to enjoy games with children, really!

Before we had kids, we enjoyed European style board games like Settlers of Catan as a fun way to socialize with our friends. When we had kids of our own, we started to explore and were amazed at the wide variety of family games we found!

The variety of games that exist out there that are age and developmentally appropriate for very young children (ages 3-5) is astounding.  Our kids, like many other kids at these ages, often had a difficult time coping with losing a game.  We found that many games for pre-readers are cooperative in nature –  there is a group goal that each player is working toward and when that is met, all the players win.  Sometimes the game wins instead of the players, and that also teaches a valuable lesson in sportsmanship.

There are games that make for hours of fun on rainy afternoons, and games that only take a few minutes to play.   There are games that help with early literacy, reading fluency, numeracy as well as the social skills children need in school.  Teamwork, turn taking, being a gracious winner and congratulatory loser are all skills that are reinforced every time you play a game with a child.

Best of all, we found games that are fun for us as well as the children.  You won’t have to roll your eyes when your child asks to play some of these more modern games.   Adults are allowed to enjoy games with children, really!

So we hope to help you explore some of games that we have played with our children, have helped other children learn to play and have taught to other families.  Feel free to comment, ask questions, seek advice, we are glad to help.

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We are in the process of developing how we want this site to look and work, but our main goal is to help families with young children spend some time together.  Boardgames are a great hobby, activity and learning tool for young minds.  We will use this main page to discuss gaming in general and try to give you more detailed information about specific games on other pages.

We also have an upcoming FREE GAMING SEMINAR in Stamford, CT.   We will be at ConnCon at the Stamford Marriott hotel on March 21st.  We will be teaching people the games we have in our collection and discussing what we enjoy with our children and their friends.   This will be the second time we are presenting at the convention and are looking forward to sharing the fun we have with others.

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