So you have a big kid and you are wondering how to use play in a meaningful way in order to connect, build social skills and foster creativity/imagination/innovation.
You've come to the right place!
Even though you have a big kid, as much as they pretend they are too cool for toys and games, they need play time in order to make sense of their world.
The toys make look different and perhaps they engage in more mature or meaningful ways, but unscheduled, unstructured play time can greatly benefit your big kid.
Board and Card Games Beyond the Classics
While I will always be a purist (Monopoly, Scrabble, Dominoes, Uno, Candyland, and Clue lovers, I see you), there are so many great games out there that tap into a ton of skills and interests. Don't get me wrong - the classics are GREAT. If you are looking for a list of classics to add to your games library, don't worry - I've got you. Check out the list of must-have classics below. You should definitely still play them and love them! Just know that there is an entire world of great new gaming out there for our kids! Some are more fantasy and imagination based (Invasion of the Cow Snatchers), others more puzzle/logic (Ticket to Ride and Qwirkle).
Some have underlying math concepts (like Battleship, Uno, and Monopoly) where others have underlying language/literacy concepts (like Hedbanz, Scrabble, and Boggle). Some are sit-and-play games (like Chess or Stratego) and others require fine or gross motor movements (like Operation, Jenga or Twister!). Some require cooperation (like Cranium) and others are more everyone for themselves (like Clue). You are sure to find something for everyone. These lists are just a sample of what is out there.
I have not hyperlinked the games as there are simply too many! I figure that if you've found yourself here, you can likely find these games through a simple search online. However, if you want or need help locating the games, please send me an email and I am happy to source some for you! Most of these games can likely be found online at big box stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Toys R Us, Chapters/Indigo, etc.
As always, I suggest checking out local game shops and toy stores who are doing curbside pickup before ordering online from bigger companies!
Monopoly Jr. / Monopoly
Scrabble Jr. / Scrabble
The Game of Life
Pictionary Jr. / Pictionary
Newer Finds and Hidden Gems:
Ticket to Ride
Settlers of Catan
Morphology Jr. / Morphology
Cranium Jr. / Cranium
Invasion of the Cow Snatchers
Apples to Apples Jr. / Apples to Apples
Gnomes at Night
Cheeky Butts (Yes.. this is the real name!)
Butts Up (Yes.. this one, too!)
Bye, Felicia! Game (Ages 12+)
2. Activities that Foster Creativity/Imagination
While video and iPad games are nice on occasion, I will not be providing options for that kind of tech-based play. I believe that there should be time in a day for social interaction, hands-on, tactical play. The beauty of big kids is that big kids can interact in a way that involves problem solving, critical thinking, personal reflection and idea creation. They can act, build, design, solve, troubleshoot and apply knowledge. The possibilities are truly endless at this age. Try some of these ideas out for size...
Craft Kits - Hey Clay, Make a Real Mosaic, Tie Dye Kits, Rainbow Loom, etc.
Science Kits - National Geographic Earth Sciences and Rocks/Minerals Kits, Slime Kits
Building Sets - Lego, K'nex, Magnatiles
Jigsaw Puzzles - 100 or 500pc, 3D Puzzles
3. Distraction-Free Engagement With Your Kids
I know - putting the phones and computers down can seem impossible these days. Let me tell you though, taking the time to unplug for an hour and spend truly distraction-free time with your kids will do wonders (for them and you!). With virtual learning and working from home or essential workers working overtime, we are all feeling the mental exhaustion - this time together is invaluable and a needed break from it all. Put the phones, tablets and headphones in a basket or bowl on the counter. Order your favourite fun dinner or dessert like pizza or McDonald's or ice cream. Take out a game (or two!) and just enjoy each other's company. No pressure, no demands - just time together. If they want to bend the rules and stay up an extra 20 minutes to finish the game, let them! If they want to change the rules of the game to better suit their needs - so be it! Reconnect as a family and let your kids see that time together means purposeful attention, conversation, laughter and shared fun. Now, more than ever, we all need it.
That's a wrap on the Play All Day Series! Thank you for joining along.