Day 788. February 27, 2019. Lagos...
I want to play games with my daughter. I want her to see games as shared play time. We could be playing houses together. Play with the wooden train set together. Read a book together. Climb a tree together. Or we could play a board game together. Games should equal fun and stress-free time for her. I do not want her to learn rules. Playtime should have little to no rules beyond those with safety in mind. Imagination should run wild.
Who wants to sit down in front of new and colorful components, cards and boards and listen to rules before touching stuff? Even I had to learn how to enjoy learning new rules. To distinguish a learning session from a gameplay session. Both are not equal. But for pre-schoolers, there's no difference. So game rules are a big no-no around here when it comes to introducing new games to Alice.
I use patience (see yesterday's post) to "teach" the rules. Let her get to know the new toy first. Let her get used to the setup first. Play with one or two rules at a time, weaved with a story. Rinse and repeat until that special day finally arrives. When they ask for a game and you play it from start to finish by the rules, without ever having to mention them as such. I think this method works wonders, as long as you limit new games for your children. Let her get used to the components. Let them be more food for her imagination hungry mind. Let them instill curiosity, wonder, and enjoyment. Aren't those the reasons why we all play games anyway?
Now that she's getting older, I still don't stop to teach her rules before playing. They roll along as we play
What worked for us: Understanding one rule at a time before moving on to the next one.
Some of the games that we've played in the last 2 years:
Gulo Gulo: We started with just flipping tiles and taking matching colored eggs. After many plays, she started to understand that her Gulo had to go back to the same colored tile when the alarm triggered. After an even longer time, she realized that she didn't have to flip a new tile every turn. Now she's looking at the egg nest before equating whether to flip a tile or not. Now, I get beaten on equal terms.
La Chasse aux Monstres: Flip a tile, match a toy. The colored tiled monster that triggers new card monsters only came out of the box when the game started to become too easy. After a while, we shortened the trigger monster, from three pieces to just two. As Alice grew, we introduced the sock tile. And later still, the new monster tile. Now we always win, no matter what. A wonderful cooperative game that grows with your kid. And I can't recommend enough French version. Stellar art and box/closet!
My First Triominos: She's still learning this one. For now, the only part of the rules that hold is matching the colors of the triangular tiles.
Goofing around with dragons, ghosts and spiders!
Junior Labyrinth: She's been playing with the pieces of this thrift store find for over two years now. First, it baffled her that ghosts couldn't cross walls! Then she learned to shift a piece of the labyrinth and only then move her ghost. Now she's starting to predict what will happen if she puts a particular piece in a certain place. Soon enough, I'll get the original version.
Spinderella: We were in the "play with the components" stage with this one until this week! She loves the magnets, and to play with the ants around the forest. Once she actually asked for the rules! I indulged her and we started rolling dices. Obviously, it didn't stick. So we went back to "play with the components" stage. Until yesterday...
Rampage: Same deal as Spinderella. She loves to create stories with the dragons. They take buses around town, go to the beach, go to the park. Fun times in Meeple City! She's going to love this one when meeples start flying all over the place!
Links to the series: How to raise a gamer. Ages 2 to 4.
...how to raise a gamer: once upon a time...
...how to raise a gamer: patience my young padawan...
...how to raise a gamer: breaking rules...
...how to raise a gamer: one two many...
...how to raise a gamer: growing up...
Photo & Image credits: ZombieBoard