Monday, July 26, 2010

Games People Play

Even though 'I'm Board Day' was not my favorite activity with my own children, there obviously is a lot of value in playing games with your kids. The young child is learning a lot about their world during their preschool years and play is an important part of their growth.

Playing a game is all about cooperation. It's about taking turns. You can't always go first. Reacting to what others say and do-Who gets the race car or the top hat? if someone takes the top hat, I guess I'll have to be the iron. I'd like the yellow piece but I'll have to be blue this time. Requiring behavior of players that make the activity run smoothly. No tantrums, name calling, throwing of game pieces or storming away from the game table. Sound familiar? Just remember your child is learning social skills and developing social behavior. Be patient.

Your child's attention span is getting longer and longer. Playing a game helps your child develop and sustain various levels of concentration and attention. Concentration is required for any learning process or activity. You have to concentrate to read, put a puzzle together or swing a bat. Playing games helps your child learn to concentrate on one activity.

Following the Rules
Life has rules. There are rules whether they are written or unwritten. We go to the back of the line, the rules of the road, table manners and general etiquette help us handle our lives in a successful and logical manner. When your child is playing a game it gives them a better understanding of following the rules. They begin to see following the rules helps provide structure to perform a specific task. It also can show your child rules can be modified. For example, in Monopoly who doesn't put money in the middle to collect when you land on FREE PARKING?

Learning About Goals
There is a purpose to playing a game. Games teach children that doing things with a specific purpose is achievable and can be enjoyable.

Contact and Conversation
When my family gathers, we play games. We play cards, dominoes and various board games. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins are gathered around the dining room table for one purpose. TO BRING DEFEAT TO THE OTHERS! No, it's about contact and conversation. Conversational skills are an important aspect of your child's social and verbal development. The conversation may create conflict and conflict resolution issues. New games introduce new vocabulary to children. Your child has to listen to rules being explained. Players ask questions to clarify their understanding of the rules.

Winning & Losing
Sore winners and sore losers. All families that play games have them. Preschool children already have the knowledge of winning and losing so often they are very enthusiastic about playing games. They also have a tendency to react very badly when they lose. So do you fix the game so your child can win? Absolutely. For awhile. What do you think will happen if you child consistently loses to you? They will get discouraged and be reluctant to play. Do you let your child win always? Absolutely not. Win a game once in awhile to teach the social graces of winning and losing (reach out your hand and say, 'Good game!')

There are other benefits to playing games. Games can help with reading and math skills, letter and number recognition. Games also bring the generations together. Many games can be played by young children and their grandparents and middle school siblings.

So next time you have family game night remember it's not all fun and games--A lot of learning and growing are happening around the kitchen table!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


It's not 39 days in a remote location but sometimes summer vacation feels like the Survivor reality show without Jeff Probst and the million bucks. When my boys were little it always seemed the last two weeks were the worst. So we created five summer holidays. We posted them on the family calendar and they really started to look forward these special summer activities. The five days are easy to do and have little or no cost but do require a little planning on you and your childrens part (yes, include them. This will build interest and excitement for the day.)

This is probably the easiest and most relaxing for mom! Try (if you can) to find a day with either no activities or the fewest possible. Everyone hangs out in their pajamas for the day. Read books alone and together and have breakfast foods for supper. Naps are encouraged!!!

Pool Day was created because I continually promised my boys we would go to SplashDown in East Peoria and some summers it just didn't happen. We had to set a day and make it happen. You could also use this day just to experience another community pool in the area.

Get your game face on for this one. This day in all honestly is my least favorite but of course the boys loved it. What sacrifices we make for our children! As the title indicates, we played board games ALL DAY! We played whatever game they wanted until the game ended or they got tired of playing that game (seriously how long can a person play Candyland without going over the edge?). As the boys grew older sometimes we had friends over for this summer holiday which meant I could opt out of some games!

Pack up the car with snacks, water (lots and lots of water), sunscreen, a small first aid kit, soccer balls, bubbles, sand toys and head to the park. Not just one park-lots of parks. Head out early in the morning when it is cool. Sometimes we would eat breakfast at home and sometimes we would pack a breakfast picnic.

To make your adventure easier, map out a route for the day. Our route usually took us into Peoria first (Glen Oak, RiverPlex, once in a while a school playground) and then back through East Peoria, Morton or Washington. Another idea would be to stop and play in the riverfront fountains (bring towels and dry clothes) Our last stop was always the McDonald's Playland for a late lunch.

When we stopped at the park, the kids would play and would decide when to head out to the next park. Usually we would spend the day just as a family but sometimes we invited other families to participate.

Best part-your kids will sleep good that night!

This by far was my boys favorite summer holiday. Do you recognize the name Templeton? If not, Templeton is the lazy, junk food crazy, overeating rat from Charlotte's Web. Do you see where I'm going with this? I am not sure how this day came about but it was a day with very few "No's".

The boys were (within reason) allowed to eat what they wanted and we had their choice of take-out for supper. Cookies for breakfast? Sure! Another snack? Sure!

The other attraction of this day was television and video games. No limits. Like most parents when the boys were little, I limited the amount of television and video games in their day. On Templeton Day, they could watch television, movies and play games until their eyes bugged out.

We would always watch the movie Charlotte's Web the night before Templeton Day. Also, make sure there is a limited number of snacks and junk food available or your child could pick a special junk food for the day.
Additional Activities-
You and your child can write and illustrate about each day.
Make a graph. Label with the special days and Loved, Liked, Okay, Didn't Like
Hope this helps you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All About Me!

School supplies are in the stores. Moms look happy and the kids look sad! Not true...It is an exciting time of the year for families. As you and your family enjoy the final weeks of summer, you might want to create an All About Me! book for your child. It is important your child know their full name, address and a phone number where Mom or Dad are most likely to be reached.

You can do this project with paper/pencil or on the computer. Create several pages to form the book. Have your child draw illustrations or use family photographs.

Page Ideas-

*My name is (first/last).
*I am a (boy/girl).
*My address is (street and city) Note:Many children when asked their address will just state their city or town. Make sure your child learns their street address.
*My phone number is__________.
*My birthday is (month/day).
*My eyes are (color) and my hair is (color).
*My Mom's name is_______. My Dad's name is_______.

You could also include pages with siblings, pets, grandparents, and cousins. There are so many possibilities for this personalized book. Most importantly, it will help your child learn this information.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stuff to Do

Here are a few ideas for you and your family to do this weekend.

Balloons at the Park-Friday and Saturday at Three Sisters Park in Chillocothe. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday 3 p.m. For prices and lots of information, go to or check the Peoria Journal Star at

Didley's Place is showing 'Toy Story 3' this weekend. Adults are $4 and children under 13 are $2. The weather looks great so grab some lawn chairs and blankets and head over! More information is available at

Peoria Chiefs are in town through Monday. You can find game times, prices and promotions

I have seen 'Toy Story 3' (yes, I cried), been to the Lego exhibit at Lakeview (you gotta go. It's unbelievable what a person can do with Legos), went to Indy for a weekend and overall having a pretty good summer. School supplies are being loaded onto the store shelves so school is just around the corner. Enjoy the summer time with your family!!!