Game plan

Pre-school children are always eager to learn new things, especially if that learning comes in the form of a game. Boosting their brains through play sessions can be a nice thing to do together on a rainy afternoon. They'll pick up new skills and have fun at the same time.

Number and logic games are great for teaching kids basic skills such as counting, weighing, measuring and sorting. In most cases a simple game lasting 20 minutes can be enormously entertaining for both of you and teach your child great new skills at the same time. So next time you have some spare time, sit down with your three or four-year-old and try some of these games:

  • Spot the number: This game can be played throughout the day. Choose a “number of the day” and draw it on a piece of card for your child to hold. During the day, point out the number every time you see it on doors, buses, shops and price labels. Cut the number out of their slice of bread for lunch and at the end of the day talk about all the different places you saw the number.
  • Park time: Go for a walk in the park with your child and look out for animals and birds. Ask them which duck looks biggest and heaviest and which ones look smaller. Look at big trees and little twigs. Send your child on seek and find missions to bring you something that’s heavy and something that’s light.

  • Can you feel it? Ask your child to close their eyes and trace the outline of a shape on their palm. Start with a circle, then use other shapes. Some parents do this on their child’s back, or you can draw the shape in the air while your child has their eyes open.

  • Potato magic: All children love potato prints, so cut the potato into shapes like triangles and squares. Your child can then stamp the different shapes to create a work of art or some great wrapping paper for

a friend’s birthday present.

  • How many legs? Ask your child to name animals that have two legs, such as a bird, duck, monkey or person. Then get them to think of four-legged animals, such as a cat, dog, horse or cow. Six-legged creatures could be a beetle, ladybird, grasshopper or bee. And then the eight-legged creatures, which are a spider or octopus.

  • oissing numbers: Write a row of numbers from one to 10, but leave one out. Read the numbers aloud and ask your child if they can name the missing one.

  • Sorting fruit: Put all the fruit on the table then hold up one piece, such as a banana, and ask your child to find another one. Do the same with all the other pieces of fruit. Now ask your child to sort them by colour such as yellow fruit or red fruit. Then sort the fruit by shape such as long fruit, round fruit or cylinder shaped fruit like kiwifruit. You can also ask them sort fruit into soft or hard groups.

  • The big toy sort: Tip all the toys out of the box so they are all muddled on the floor. Ask your child to search for one category of toy such as action figures. Put them in their own box or container. Then ask them to find all the toy cars, jigsaw pieces, animal figures, and so on.

  • oy busy day: Talk about things you and your child do every day. Tell them you are going to mix up words in a sentence and their job is to tell you which words have been swapped. For example: “We’re going to the swim to have a beach,” or, “We’re going to get some shop at the bread.”

  • Spot the difference: Draw two similar pictures of a cat or a doll, making two or three changes to one of the pictures such as adding spots, changing hair colour or adding a bow. Ask your child to spot the differences between the two pictures.

  • How far can you get? Give your child a ball and get them to stand at a line and guess how far they think they can throw it. Mark the spot and then get them to throw. See how close they get. If it is way out, get them to estimate again. You can also play this game by rolling a ball, or you can ask them to guess how many times you can throw and catch the ball between you before you drop it.

  • The deepest puddle: Go for a walk in the rain or after it has been raining and take a ruler with you. Put the ruler in each puddle and measure how deep they are. After you’ve done a few, ask them to guess how deep the next one will be.

  • Hide and seek: Hide 10 small building blocks around a room and ask your child to look for them. As they get closer you shake a rattle, and the nearer they get, the louder the rattle gets.

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