There are many simple games that you can play with your preschooler to pass the time as you ride in the car, stand in line at the store, sit in a waiting room or relax before bed.
Games are fun to play, but they are also great opportunities for learning as children build vocabulary and memory skills, ask and answer questions and follow directions.
Here are a few games that can be played almost anywhere.
• I’m Thinking Of: Choose a familiar item and give a clue to help your child guess what it is. If you chose a carrot, your first clue could be, "I’m thinking of something orange." Let your child have one or two guesses, and if she is not correct give another hint. "I’m thinking of something that is orange and grows in our garden." Older children can take a turn coming up with their own object for you to guess.
• What’s Missing: Take several small objects from the room or, if you are away from home, your purse or pocket. Let your child see them, then have him turn around. Take one object away and see if he can guess what is missing. Let him have a turn removing an object while you guess.
• Picture Search: Find a busy page in a picture book or a magazine. Try to find all the circles or look everything in a particular colour. Older children can look for a specific number or letter. Choose a small detail of the picture and see if your child can find it.
• Number Memory: Say several numbers in and have your child repeat them back in the same order. Start small, "4,9,2" and add more numbers, one at a time.
• Doesn’t Belong: List four items for your child, three of which belong in the same category and one that is different. Ask your child which word doesn’t belong. If you said, "cat, mouse, pumpkin, giraffe", your child would tell you that pumpkin does not belong because it is not an animal.
• Back Writing: Trace your finger lightly on your child’s back and have her guess what you have ‘written’. Depending on your child’s age and ability, you might draw shapes, or a simple picture like a sun or house. Older children can decipher letters or numbers, then eventually words and phrases.
To remain interesting, games should provide a challenge to your child, but should not be so difficult that he becomes frustrated.
Keep a few simple games in mind for an easy way to pass the time, to help your child learn, and most importantly to have fun together.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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