I love to “find” a fantastic language learning game and in this case, it was on the game shelf at my grandkids’ house and due to the kids’ excitement when I asked about it, I knew it was loads of fun too!
“Zoo on the Loose, A Hide and Seek Animal Adventure” by Mindware is right in sync with preschoolers as they are in charge of hiding and finding animals according to directions that include plenty of concepts to process–spacial relationships, colors, shapes, and descriptors. Unfold the play zoo mat and place the 5 cuddly animals, camel, zebra, bear, whale and monkey in their zoo homes. Play cards send the animals to hide on the mat or all around the house. Our kids did both which added a memory component because when we chose a zookeeper card, we had to return all the animals to their zoo homes on the mat. We forgot the monkey was in the refrigerator, as we had “put it someplace cold!” What fun to see how the kids listened to and followed the directions, choosing a spot that matched their descriptions. “Put the camel someplace soft” directed my little friend to place it under our dog standing by!
Kids practice beginning reading skills as they repeat a phrase, “Put the___”in the yellow circle,” “by a window,” “under a tree,” or “next to the camel.” Listening and following directions is a critical skill for success in the classroom as kids practice hiding the animals “someplace quiet,” “someplace sunny,” or “someplace dry (the clothes dryer).” Teachers and therapists take note as this would be a wonderful way to engage kids physically in the classroom as well as mentally as they exercise memory, listening, vocabulary, and concept learning to build essential language skills.