When I choose games and toys I look at the educational benefit to the child. The problem I have is finding activities that my preschooler is attracted to and will use. We want the child to feely choose their activities, and we want the activities to speak to the child!
These types of cognitive development games help to develop skills including:
- visual perception
- some strategy & positional thought.
Bunny Peek A Boo is recommended for children from 2 years. It's a good game but it's not Otto's favourite. When I first introduced it we played it together and it took him a while to get it. From my experience, it is best for children 2.5-3.5 years+.
The cards differ in difficulty. I present one card at a time. The child moves the coloured wooden pieces including the little bunny to match the positions on the card. Bunny Peek A Boo is fantastic for the development of Positional Language (above, below, inside, outside, in front of, behind)!!
Perhaps I should also note that Otto (39 months) is really into puzzles. It's possible that children who enjoy puzzles would also enjoy this style of game.
Night & Day is one of Otto's favourites. He will often play it and always independently. I often leave a few cards out for him as one isn't enough. He started playing this at three years but we really could have introduced it earlier. Here the child uses the wooden pieces on the three dowels to match the image on the card.
I'm sure it's the people/faces that make this so attractive to the child. I like that it is a scene if these were just shapes and colours it might not have the same appeal.
The card has the image in colour detail on one side and the other side is the 'night' version where the child can just see the silhouette. Night & Day is much used and loved.
Castle Logix is another favourite and is the younger sibling of Camelot Jr. Castle Logix is for 3yrs+ and Camelot Jr is for children 4yrs+. The child uses the blocks and rods to make the images of the castle in the booklet. In a group setting with heavy use, I would photocopy or even remove the binding and present the children with individual images rather than the whole booklet on the tray (perhaps even laminated).
As with all of these activities, there are many levels of difficulty which keeps it interesting and appealing to the child for a longer period of time. As with Night & Day the child is making something of interest (like the castle), it is more engaging for the child.
Trucky 3 comes with three trucks, plastic shapes to fit in the trucks and a booklet. The child is presented with one or more of the trucks and specific shapes as listed in the booklet. The child needs to put the shapes into the trucks so that they sit flat, so they fit perfectly in the back of the truck.
The child will need to move the shapes around, rotate them, flip them around and really think how the shapes fit together. Otto really enjoys playing with the trucks and shapes but does not play the game as intended with the booklet. He likes to have all three trucks and all the shapes out to play at once for open-ended play. This play is still very worthwhile as he still fits the shapes in the trucks and this still helps to develop problem-solving and spatial awareness skills.
Three Little Piggies is such an interesting game. The idea is the child follows the card prompts to place the pig/s and the wolf onto the playing board. Then the child places the house pieces to keep the pigs inside and the wolf outside. If playing without the wolf, you place the houses to keep the pigs outside.
The hard part for the child is the positioning of the house pieces. It's a bit like solving a puzzle. This is another game that Otto just won't follow the game rules and like to use this for open-ended play. Again this type of play is still so beneficial as he is still placing the pigs and wolf and still trying to position the house pieces.
Duplo Matching - using Duplo Pattern Cards (at TPT). This activity is new, we've only had it out for a few days. Otto likes it much more than I had expected and will choose it often. The cards are a good option and help us to use what we have at home - if you already have some Duplo. We don't have a lot of Duplo so don't have the exact colour shades but Otto didn't have a problem. I could see that he still struggles at times connecting the Duplo pieces, I hadn't noticed this before and it makes me appreciate how good Duplo and Lego are for building hand strength. If you have lots of Duplo, Etsy also has some fun cards to try, see Duplo Christmas cards and Duplo Pattern/Stacking cards here.
For a slightly older child, I recommend Pattern Play. Pattern Play is suggested for 3yrs+ but at the moment my three-year-old finds it too difficult.
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