IMG_0415 (1)My twin grandchildren are approaching 3 and interested in playing games. There are so many wonderful first games for 3 year-olds by companies like WonderForge, ThinkFun, Educational Insights, SimplyFun and Peaceable Kingdom, to name a few of my favorites. The kids came home excited from their classmate’s birthday party yesterday with a perfect favor, a Little Mermaid and Jake and the Neverland Pirates On the Go Memory Match game.

Game play teaches kids so many skills for school–taking turns, waiting for your turn, thinking critically, scanning for all the information, building vocabulary, making decisions, and verbalizing, and making choices.

As we punched out the 54 picture cards per set, it occurred to me that things would get a little too complicated if we used them all. So I chose 6 pairs, 12 cards in all to start, also selecting¬†cartoons that varied visually. I didn’t pick 2 Captain Hook illustrations that varied only with his position and adding a treasure chest but rather decided on Captain Hook, a map, Skully the parrot, Tick Tock the Alligator, a sword, and Cubby. Don’t be too impressed, I had to look up the names of the characters again and used Mommy’s permanent marker to annotate the game bags for future play!

I was glad that I simplified the game board so to speak as it took a few turns for the kids to understand ¬†turning over 2 cards, and then letting their sibling take a turn. Memory games teach vocabulary like, “match, same, different, pair, and together,” which are helpful in later math descriptions.

Of course, kids put their own spin on a game and it’s great to go with their lead. In spite of my modeling gathering up your matching pair and placing it in your “pile,” Willie kept adding his winnings to Dabney’s pile, creating a collaborative game rather than competition. Look what kids are always teaching ME again!