When I was making our schedule for the school year, I decided that every now and then I would add in a day where we played games together instead of doing our regular work. I love to play games, but often don't think about playing them with my children in the busyness of the day. By scheduling it, I could be sure to remember. It also solved the problem on what to do with the days that I knew were going to be interrupted for some reason, such as doctor's appointments.
Yesterday morning was our first scheduled game day since G. and L. had a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning. We were back in a little over an hour (because I've learned to book the first appointment of the day), which left us plenty of time for playing. I started out with the three youngest and with P.'s help, G., L., and K. played Lollipops (what K. has always called Candyland). The little girls were very excited to be playing a game, but they are still just a bit too young. I moved L.'s man and P. moved G.'s. By the middle of the game, L. had lost interest and gone to play something else. K. enjoyed it, but I will admit to stacking the deck so as to put P. and I out of our misery sooner rather than later. After this excitement, the little girls were quite happy to play with the dollhouse in the pen.
For out next game with the older set, I had wanted to play Settlers of Catan, which is one of my favorites, but there was a heavy lobby for Apples to Apples, which won out. Part of the deal about game day is that everyone participates. I decided to make it one of those 'enforced family fun' moments. (I wish I could take credit for the term 'enforced family fun', but I have blatantly stolen it from a good friend.) There was one touch and go moment, but by keeping my tone light, TM came and joined us. He is not as fluent a reader as the others yet, and I knew part of his hesitation was that it was a reading game. I had him sit next to me so I could help him with words he was unsure of.
Everyone had a good time and it was a delightful way to spend the morning. I was struck once again with the amount of learning that happens when children play games. First there is the social interaction of doing things together. But there are also lessons in patience, humility, good sportsmanship, and self-control... all under the guise of fun. Play some games with your children.
While I am on the topic of games, I wanted to share one that one of J.'s co-workers gave him for our children. It has been a fantastic hit and has been played nearly constantly since it arrived. It's called Tally Rally and is a math game. Now normally my children don't really go for the overt 'educational' games, but this one is the exception. There is a board on which number tiles are placed in a random order. A timer is set and everyone writes down as many math equations as they can spot. (The equations have to be from adjoining numbers and can use any function.) Once the timer is done, each person reads off his equations and if someone else has the same one it's crossed off. Only unique equations get counted and whoever ends up with the most points wins. It has been great for my children's mental math skills.
And for those interested, G. and L. are within two pounds of each other in weight, but are the same height. We are blessed with two very healthy girls.