Tuesday, August 1, 2023
How did you creep up on us so quickly?
When we were teaching,
the first day of August
always signaled the beginning of the end of summer!
School meetings and planning sessions began creeping into our weekly schedules!
To our teacher friends,
we feel you!
Enjoy ALL that August offers!
Now that we’ve both retired,
August, of course, has a totally different feel to it!
There is still a lot of summer goodness left to savor
and each of us will be spending cherished time
with our grandkids - our Littles - during the coming weeks!
If YOU will be spending time with YOUR Littles
before summer ends,
be sure to check out our series of posts,
Summer Camp with the Grands!
We’ve got lots of fun themes filled with simple activities and adventures
that require minimal prep or expense!
This week’s theme is one we are all familiar with!
After all, who hasn’t spent hour upon hour over a lifetime
When we were young, there were no cell phones or electronic devices. Our parents told us to “go play”, so that’s what we did! Our young worlds were full of neighborhood games, board game marathons with friends, and quiet solitary games.
As parents and teachers and now, as Grands, we've rediscovered, over and over again, the joy and fun of game playing with Littles!. An article from healthychildren.org states that games improve children's abilities to plan, organize, get along with others, regulate emotions and improve language and math skills.
But, honestly, don’t we mostly remember the laughter and freedom that came when playing games with the people we love? Whether the game was played outside with lots of friends or at a table or on the floor with a few others, games hold a cherished place in our memories! NOW we can share some of our favorites with the Littles in our lives! We hope this post encourages you to do just that!
Playing with your youngest Littles can be a fun activity…
a bonding moment, an educational experience, and a developmental opportunity!
No matter which game you choose,
your Little will love this time spent together!
From birth to six months old, a simple game can stimulate your Little’s senses!
Through simple activities you will provide important experiences for your Little!
Here’s some of our favorites!
Pedal Those Legs! While your Little is on his/her back, pedal his/her legs, just like a bicycle and sing, Pedal, Pedal! This would be a great routine to add to diaper changes!
Let’s Go Fishing! Attach a long piece of ribbon or string to one of your Little’s favorite toys. During Tummy Time, dangle the toy in front of your Little and watch him/her track the object! NOTE: Be sure to put the string in a safe place, away from your Little when you are not playing with it!
Tickle Me! Your Little will learn to anticipate the fun to come with this one! Chant a classic tickle rhyme such as “This Little Piggy” or “Round and Round the Garden” as you touch your Little’s tummy, chin or toes! Here’s the words to “Round and Round the Garden”:
Round and round the garden,
Goes a teddy bear!
A one step… a two step…
A tickle under there!
Monkey See, Monkey Do! Get close to your Little and imitate his/her gestures and facial expressions. For example, try sticking your tongue out like a frog to see if your Little will copy you… before you know it, he/she will be imitating you, too!
Soon your Little’s world grows as he/she becomes stronger and more interactive! In addition to the games described above, the following ideas can work well for your Littles from 6 months to one year old!
Pack It Up! At around this age, Littles love to explore and empty out storage areas like our drawers, shelves and baskets! To ensure safety, give your Little a box or basket filled with safe toys or household items such as rattles, blocks, stuffed animals, plastic measuring cups or spoons! Let your Little explore the objects and pull them out one by one (or you could dump out the contents of the container yourself). Then, have your Little return the items to the container. Use the opportunity to describe when the container is empty or full, and describe the items as your Little drops each in. This was one of our daily routines when Laura would visit Little L last year! What a great way to introduce the concept of clean up time, too! .
Peek-a-Boo! It’s a classic for a reason! All you need to do is cover and uncover your eyes or face as you say Peek-a-Boo! This game reinforces object permanence which is the understanding that something still exists even when we can’t see it! You can vary the game in different ways, too! For example, make funny sounds each time you show your face or hide and then uncover your face with a piece of clothing or a scarf! After changing your Little’s diaper, you can play Peek-a-Boo through his/her legs! You’ll soon know if your Little gets the idea when he/she pulls a cloth from your face or you hide a favorite toy under a blanket and he/she goes looking for it! The laughter and giggles will be a dead giveaway!
Mirroring! Hold up a mirror so your Little can see him/herself. Model how to make faces in the mirror! Soon your Little will love seeing his/her own facial expressions staring back! You can also mirror your Little without using the actual mirror! Simply match his/her expressions and sounds… your Little will be entranced!
Laundry Basket Ball Pit! Early on, Laura invested in a set of plastic balls and we’ve used them over and over again! One of our favorite ways to use them with Little L when she was younger was to put her in a laundry basket with them! She had fun throwing them out, mouthing them and even laying down in the colorful basket!
Crawling Course! Once your Little can crawl, this would be such a fun game to play! Use soft, safe objects (couch cushions, pillows, stuffed animals) to create an obstacle course of sorts! Encourage your Little to crawl over, under, around and through the course by holding a favorite toy in front of him/her. Don’t worry if your Little finds his/her own way of using the crawling course… The goal is to have fun as he/she moves!
Finger Puppet Fun! You can purchase a commercial set of finger puppets (like these) or you can make your own from an old pair of gloves or from construction paper. Your Little will love hearing your voice and tracking the puppets as the show unfolds! Fingerplays are another fun way to play a game with these Littles! Check out our post, Fingerplays and Rhymes with Our Littles! for more ideas!
Games for one year olds will guarantee lots of giggles with learning opportunities built naturally into them. Again, as your Little’s skills, attention, memory and understanding grows the focus of the games they play changes and becomes more challenging, too!
We love these simple but engaging games
and think you will, too!
Match the Socks! All you need for this matching game is 3-5 sets of socks from your Little’s dresser! Little L had just as much fun trying to put the socks on her feet as she did trying to match the pairs!
Let’s Bowl! Stack a set of cups to make a tower as shown in the photo above (we used nine cups with four on the bottom, then three and then two. We put one of Little L’s plastic animals on the top because we ran out of cups but you could certainly put one more cup on the top, too! We modeled for her how to roll the ball towards the tower as she watched it all crash down! It didn’t take long before she figured it out! 😉
Where, Oh Where is My Friend? This game introduces our Littles to the concept of a memory game. You’ll need three matching cups and a favorite toy that would fit inside one of them. With your Little watching you, put the toy under one of the cups and then line all three cups up on a counter or table. Move the three cups around as you say, “Where, oh where is my friend?” two to three times and then stop. See if your Little can figure out where his/her friend is hiding by lifting a cup, one at a time, to see if it’s there!
Hide and Seek! Another classic but so delightful for our Littles! At eighteen months, we introduced the game to Little L by hiding one favorite toy at a time around the room! Variations as Littles get older include hiding multiple toys at once, playing hot or cold as your Little is on the hunt and, of course, ultimately having your Little hide as you seek and work to find him/her!
Once your Littles have figured out games and how they work,
there’s a world of fun waiting for them!
As retired Kindergarten teachers, we love this sentiment!
We both know and value
the important role movement plays in helping our Littles
not just survive but THRIVE!
For our Littles there is nothing like being active outside,
with no walls in sight!
Summer is often the perfect time to make this happen
and we’ve got some fun game options
- classics mixed with a few that may be less familiar -
Ring Around the Rosie! (“New Walkers” - Preschool)
A classic game many families forget about, especially for our walking babies and toddlers, but believe us, older Littles love this one, too! In fact, as you can see from the photos below, this game is a fun one for Littles of all ages to play together! And, if needed, you can even play it with only 2 people! This is a game Laurie remembers playing at birthday parties in her early years. The last one to fall down was always “out”!
A pocket full of posies
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down!
Pickle in the Middle! (School-Aged and Older)
This throwing and catching game can be played with 3 people - for example Grandma, Grandpa and Little! Two people throw a ball back and forth to each other, The Pickle stands between them and tries to intercept the ball. If the Pickle blocks it, he/she trades places with the person who threw it. If you have more than 3 people playing, you make a line outside the game and when the Pickle blocks it, the person who threw the ball moves to the back of the line, and the next person comes in as the new Pickle!
Gigantic Memory Game! (Depending on Number of Matches, Preschool and Older)
Using paper plates or construction paper, draw pictures or colors, letters, etc, on each plate/paper. Create 10-15 matches or pairs for a total of 20-30 plates/paper playing pieces! Laurie used pictures of her family (printed out from the computer)! Once the pieces are ready, lay them out on the ground, as shown in the photos. Players take turns flipping over two plates/pieces of paper to see if a match has been made! Play continues until all the pairs have been found. The player with the most matches wins!
There are SOOOOOO many oldie but goodie movement games to play with Littles. We’ve rounded up a few more of our favorites for you to check out if you’d like!
Simon Says! (Preschool and Older)
One player is Simon and the rest of the group faces him/her. Simon calls out an order like, “Simon says, jump up and down!”. Everyone in the group must then do that action. Sometimes Simon will call out an order without first saying “Simon Says”. Traditionally, if a player still does the action, he/she would be out! We prefer to not have any players feel left out SO instead of being out, the player would be asked to do a task (i.e. 10 jumping jacks) before rejoining the game! A new Simon is chosen periodically!
A Fun Alternative… Simon gets sneaky! Simon gives a command for the other players to follow but he/she tries to trick the others by doing a different movement! The players must do what Simon says, not what he does!
A Grand Tip!
When playing with younger Littles
It may be best to have a Grand or other adult be Simon!
Spray Bottle Freeze Tag! (Toddler and Older)
This game was outlined in our Welcome to Summer! post - our first in our Summer Camp with the Grands! series! The person who is “It” carries a spray bottle around. If other players get sprayed with water they are frozen until someone else tags them to unfreeze them!
Your littlest Littles will love this one as you play Peek-a-Boo and gently spray their toes or tummies!
While active play is crucial for a child’s overall development
so is time spent, quietly and peacefully,
either alone or in the presence of others!
Quiet games provide a period of rest that can calm the mind and body
giving our Littles a chance to reset and break away from constant stimulations.
NOTHING beats that sense of inner calm that comes with such moments!
What a gift that is for our Littles!
Check out a few of our favorites below,
many requiring few, if any, supplies!
Tic-Tac-Toe! (Preschool and Older)
This classic game is easy to play anywhere with only two people and you only need a few supplies to get started! Draw a # on paper and together choose your two types of markers. You can simply draw X’s and O's that you make with a pencil (the classic version)! Or, you can use two different types of candy, coins, letters, colors, pictures of yourself (printed from the computer), seasonal items or nature items. Each player chooses one of the two markers! Play begins with one person placing one of his/her markers in one square of the #. Play continues until one player fills three squares in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally!
Fun Variation! Another variation of the game is to draw a large tic-tac-toe board with chalk on your driveway. Mark X’s and O’s on 8 plastic plates and take turns tossing them like frisbees into a square to create your 3 in a row!
Jacks! (School Age and Older)
Laurie remembers the hours spent sitting on a hot sidewalk playing Jacks with her friends… what a favorite childhood memory, it is! The good thing about Jacks these days is that you can easily play indoors on hardwood floors! For the rules and how-to info for playing Jacks, click here.
Thumb Wrestling! (Preschool and Older)
Did you ever thumb wrestle as a kid? We sure did! While this is a great game to play anytime, it’s a perfect one to play while waiting for an appointment or on a road trip, too! You’ll need two people to play. Each player puts their right thumb in mid-air, facing one another. The two players grab each other’s right hand fingertips and clasp tightly together! Teach your Littles how to begin by bowing their thumbs to each other. Then chant, “One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war!”
Let the wrestling begin! The first player to pin the other thumb down for five counts wins! If your Little is left handed, change the orientation of the hands OR switch off between rounds!
Rock, Paper, Scissors! (Preschool and Older)
Just in case you don’t remember how to play this game, here’s how… This game is usually played with partners! Each player makes a fist and taps their open hand while saying, “Rock, paper, scissors!” On the word scissors, each player makes a motion with their hand - a rock (a fist), paper (hand out flat) or scissors (pointer and middle finger out like scissors). Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock! We’ve typically played best out of ten rounds!
Card Games! (Depending on the Game, Toddler and Older)
From Busy Toddler
Four card games to play with your toddler are shared. Using a deck of cards, two year olds and older Littles can sort, match and learn more about playing cards!
from It’s Always Autumn
These are the 11 best and easy card games that are actually super fun to play! These are perfect for kids and adults, so the whole family will enjoy them!
Dice Games! (Depending on the Game, Toddler and Older)
Many dice games help Littles by reinforcing math skills! Beyond that, they bring hours of fun! Tap the links below to check out some great options!
from What Do We Do All Day
Easy dice games for Littles that are simple to learn, help with math skills and offer opportunities for building social skills in a screen free environment.
From Family Game Shelf
Beat That! dice game is easy to play for all ages! Get the rules, how to play and a long list of variations to play.
Yes… board games can be expensive
so we want to be thoughtful when purchasing one!
However, we look at them as an investment in our Littles
because board games…
build communication skills,
teach Littles to follow directions,
help Littles learn to fail and how to react when that happens,
encourage healthy competition
promote family time!
There are many treasured board games that are classics we all love
and they are definitely worth considering when purchasing a board game or two!
After all, there’s a reason why these have been around forever
and would be welcomed additions to any game collection!
In this post however, we are primarily focusing on a few new favorites
that we’ve found engaging and equally worth adding to our own game shelf!
By age level, here are a few of our latest “must haves"!
The best toddler games encourage social, visual and vocabulary development!
When choosing a game for a toddler,
look for those that are open ended, bright and very simple!
A toddler’s attention span is generally 3-5 minutes per year of age
so keep that in mind when choosing a game!
Also, choose one with pieces that are large enough so that they won’t pose a choking hazard
(A good rule of thumb is to use pieces that are larger than the diameter of a quarter.)
Here’s two games we love!
Acorn Soup is designed so that your young Littles (2+) can experience what it’s like to take turns, play within the rules (even loosely!) and possibly learn a new skill like rolling a die. Seek-a-Boo can be used as a memory game and is also a great way to introduce toddler Littles to matching games!
Although we said that we were focusing on newer board games on the market
we felt that Candy Land deserved special recognition!
After all, it is widely known as everyone’s first board game!
In our opinion, Candy Land belongs in every early game collection! 😊
A Grand Tip!
Instead of stacking the cards in a pile for your older 2’s and young 3’s,
turn them upside down in the box lid!
Here are a few other games appropriate for preschool and kindergarten Littles!
Spot It and Memory are games that are fun for preschoolers to early elementary Littles and are just as exciting for adults to play! You’ll be surprised at how often your Littles will legitimately beat you!
So many of the classic board games highlighted in the graphic above
are games that have been played by generations of school age children!
In addition to many of the games illustrated there,
Connect 4, Sorry, Guess Who, Trouble and Checkers for first - third grade
Life, Clue, Battleship, Monopoly and Chess for older grades,
we’re excited to share the following fun options with you!
Invented thousands of years ago, Mancala is one of the world’s best loved games of counting and strategy! Blokus is the perfect strategy game for elementary and older Littles as well as adults! Taco vs Burrito is a wildly popular and surprisingly strategic game that older Littles and adults enjoy… exciting up to the very last card!
We love playing games with our families!
These three family friendly board games will entertain all ages!
Family Charades (ages 4+) is the perfect game to play with all ages! Laurie's extended family loves to play this one together! There are two fun options - the always favorite Classic Charades and a fun group acting game called Switch Charades where players take turns guessing while the rest of the team acts together!
Of course, you don't always need a board game to play Charades! Your Littles (and your family) will enjoy making up your own version of the game! You can write charade ideas on slips of paper or use picture clues for younger players. To make the game easier for our littlest Littles choose simple ideas - pictures of animals, sports, household activities chores (i.e. mowing the lawn) all work well!
Blank Slate (ages 8+) is easy to learn, quick to play, and fun for the whole family! Just grab a slate, write a word, and get ready to make a match. This has become a favorite for Laura's family when at the lake! We also love Headbanz (ages 8+) which is a fast paced game! On your turn, flip over the timer and start asking yes/no questions to figure out the card shown on the headband you are wearing but can’t see! Get the most cards right to win! Everyone's a winner, though, because you'll all be laughing silly!
Games, games, games galore!
We really had to reel ourselves in on this post
as there are SO many amazing options out there!
If none of our games grabbed your attention,
just Google or search Pinterest,
Outdoor Games, Family Games, Toddler Games, Best Board Games for….
You get the idea!
You will find what you need!
We would love to hear memories of your favorite games,
as well as the favorites you play with your own Littles!
Please share by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.
We’re so glad you stopped by!
As always, we welcome your support and appreciate when you share our content
with other Grands and caregivers!
(Remember, You can tap the “Facebook Share” button at the top of our home page to do so quickly!)
We’ll be back next week with an artistic post in our series,
Summer with the Grands!
Next week our focus will be Art-a-Whirl!
Can you guess what our topic will be?
In the meantime, be sure to stop by
We’re sharing lots of additional content there each and every day!
Here’s one Construction Zone! highlight from the past week:
❤️ We are delighted to join these link up parties and blog hops this week: