Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simple Games You Can Make

Stuffed Shelf of Traditional Games

While there are many wonderful games to purchase that are beneficial to young children, I always enjoyed making my own. It offered the opportunity to make them specific to a subject, theme, holiday, season, or another other topic of interest. I could also make different options such as having a simpler version for the youngest child while offering other challenge levels to the older ones.

These four games can take you a long way! Here's the basics you'll need to create your own games:

This long time favorite requires sturdy card stock base. I liked having cards cut in 2 inch squares, but you can make them larger or even different shapes. The matching items could be stickers, objects, colors, drawings, or whatever you like. Let's start simply with a Shape Memory. Cut out matching shapes from paper making sure that there are at least two of each shape. Glue shapes to one side of your card stock card. To ensure that the game will last cover the card with clear contact paper on both sides leaving a small border around to seal the contact together.
Letter Memory - Capitals
If you start with all shapes of one color you are focusing on the shape concept alone. Increase difficulty by now adding different colored shapes so that matches can either be by shape alone or by color/shape combinations. The next level is introducing the concept of size. Example: small circles and large circles within the same game. The matches must be by shape, color and now size. It's easy to see how this game can grow and change.
Other versions include Memory Letters (matching same letters, upper and lower case, letter to picture of something starting with that letter, etc.), Memory Numbers (direct matching of objects, numeral to object, numeral to numeral, etc.), Memory Math (simple to complex problems with answer matches). You get the idea - there are so many possibilities.
Children really get excited when you use their own artwork as the base of the matching. I'd take a photo of their creation or even of them in action being creative and then shrink the photo size to fit our cards. The first time I introduced this to them with photos of them and their own projects they went into fits of giggles - what a great surprise!

Tic Tac Toe
Puppies vs. Dog Bowl
Starting with a simple 3x3 (9 square) base this game can change simply by introducing different X's or O's. Start with the sturdy card stock base. We actually mounted ours inside of a square plastic box so that we could store all our markers inside. This was great for putting in our bag to travel. It's nice to have something to do while waiting at the dentist or on the plane.
Markers should be two equal sets, one for each player. I always made sets of 9 markers - just to have enough on hand. We would occasionally loose one or two along the way. Some ideas include Holiday Wreaths vs. Holiday Trees, Acorns vs. Pumpkins, Sandals vs. Beach balls, Tulips vs. Roses - there is no limit to the ideas here. You can use stickers, children's drawings, photos, etc. to identify each set of markers. Also, you could use actually small toys for this as well - Lego's, cars, tiny action figures, etc.

Picture Puzzles
Simple Photo Puzzles
Puzzles are always a favorite activity for a variety of ages. Why not use photos of your own to create puzzles? First select a photo for printing. I liked 8 X11 size but you can choose smaller if you like or blow it up larger as well. Next, determine how many pieces you will have. Younger children will need fewer pieces, challenge older children with more. I didn't get too fancy with my cuts - usually just straight lines. I just a simple grid of squares for the simple puzzles and then included triangles or trapezoids for more challenging puzzles. Final step before playing is to laminate all pieces or use clear contact paper to protect them. You'll have to leave a little product around the outer edge of each piece so that it's sealed. I kept each puzzle separate in it's own zip lock bag. You could also have a copy of what the photo looks like as a reference if needed.

While the classic game of Bingo is fun we wanted to spice it up and it's so easy to do. Your base cards are what you build the game from. Obviously the column topper is typically B I N G O and this can work for any theme choice, but you may want to think of other options such as BEACH, EARTH, PARTY, COLOR or a child's name and/or age like A L E C 6. Let children get creative with this and you'll have tons of ideas in no time!
Beach Bingo
We liked to make about 10 cards for any of our bingo games. That allowed for friends and family to play. I've made them for a classroom parties so for there were 23 cards - but it was very easy to duplicate for a larger group.
After you've have you column topper chosen, the next step is to make the base grid with a free space in the middle. Then determine what you are using for the Bingo spaces. We often used stickers that reflected the theme for our game - Holidays, Colors, Shapes, Birthday, Sports, Disney, Vacation, etc. Base cards should each be a little different. You'll need a set of small cards for the "caller." If you plan on keeping different versions of the game I suggest laminating the cards and putting each set in their own zip lock bag.
Typical bingo games have 15 numbers assigned under each column heading but with these homemade games you may not have that extensive of a variety per column so the game plays a little differently. Here's a scenario of what a game might be like - as the "caller" I would have a blank base card with my column topper heading, I pull the first card from my pile and call "under the letter E, flip-flop sandal", next card "under the letter C, beach ball" and so on. You may have "beach ball" also under the letter B. Players need to keep in mind the column as well as the matching picture as they go. The "caller" needs to keep track of what they've called.
Card markers can also vary from small candies to small toys. We've used small erasers shaped in the theme and then players can keep them - great for parties. Buttons are great. They come in lots of colors and shapes. You can get large amounts of them at the craft store. We've also used those mini sized pom-poms. So look around and get creative!
We've made photo versions as well for birthday parties - pictures of the birthday child, friends, pets, favorite activities, etc. One year I announced we were playing BINGO! I didn't get a very enthusiastic reception (they claimed they were "too old", it was a "lame game", etc), then they saw the photo cards and really got into it. It was a huge hit, making for some incredible birthday memories!

Large Game Tote
With homemade games you'll want easy storage options. Zip lock bags are wonderful for keeping pieces and games together. They are portable and easy to bring with you anywhere. Small plastic boxes (pencil box size) are also great for single game storage and portability. You can have a home for all your games in a large tote - the ones with dividers can help different types of games. Totes can slip into a closet or place on a shelf.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! I wish I'd been this creative as a mother.