Gaming With Babies (No, Really): Toddler Games

Last time I left out a very important group of games I have been playing: those with my son! So this week I want to do a few short reviews of some of the games my wife and I have tried with him.

Toddler Games

Matching games

The premise of these games is quite simple. You lay down a bunch of the tiles or cards and then take turns flipping over pairs of them. If the pairs match you take them off the board and get another turn.

From an educational standpoint, the game teaches pattern matching (the thing machines are rapidly making us obsolete for). For an adult the challenge of remembering the card position makes this game more interesting than some others (see below) even if you let your child win most of the time.

These games are quick, cheap and come in a lot of varieties. All in all a good buy for playing with kids. The first one we got includes the option of matching animals to what they eat for an extra layer of complexity.

Unfortunately Sebastian isn’t good at taking turns yet, though hopefully another game (again see below) might help him with that.

Count Your Chickens

Another educational game (a theme for game for young children) this one teaches counting (and more pattern matching I guess). In Count Your Chickens, you take turns spinning a spinner and moving your token forward to the next image that matches the one spun. You count the steps to that space and pick up that many baby chickens. If you get the fox however you don’t move and one of your chickens gets removed. The goal is to gather 40 chickens between all the players.

The game is cute and cooperative which is nice. But it has the same problem as Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders in that it’s essentially random. There is no skill involved and for me at least no challenge. I need at least some challenge to hold my interest.

Go Away Monster!

I found out about this game via the advertisement in Sushi Go (one of my Christmas presents). It is another matching style game but with a twist. Each turn you draw a piece from a bag. If it’s a piece of furniture the player places it where it belongs in the room tile in front of them (or one of the other player’s tiles). If it’s a monster they tell it go away and remove it from the game.

My son has been at times afraid of monsters. Perhaps survival mode Minecraft wasn’t the best choice for a bonding activity. I think this game might help with that. In any case I’m excited to try it out.

Word Association

My wife and son just started this spontaneously. The rules are simple. First one person says a word, then the next. You go back and forth until you get bored.

This fun activity helps teach turns (which will hopefully make several of the above games more fun to play with him). It does include the risk of many nonsense words and insults involving bodily functions but that is what you get when playing with children. At least it’s not boring.