How playing Scrabble helps me bond with my kids

Knots and Crosses Channapatna Style

I want to play more with my children. Hide and seek with my two-year old in the garden leaves me breathless – and so happy  🙂 Board games are my latest passion. I watched my friends play them with their kids (aged 6 – 18) on a recent holiday together, and I was IMPRESSED. These are normal, active kids who love football and cricket and have serious fights over whose turn it is to play the Wii. But  they equally enjoyed sitting down for a few quick rounds of any of the (huge) array of games their parents had carried.

So I have decided that in the larger interest of having something fun to do with my children when they are teenagers, I will make an effort (my husband is on ‘board’ with this plan) to play more and preach less.  I’ve begun to realise that to bond with our kids, we need to find the time to talk to them and be with them in a happy, relaxed environment. Which unfortunately, does not automatically happen during the bed/bath/breakfast routine. (Btw all mums should read this book – ‘168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think’. Has some radical ideas – trashing housework for instance; but has some good insights and inspired me to do more with my day).

Now the best part of all this games business is, it’s fun. Something I realised over a game of snakes and ladders the other night at dinner. Which is the other thing. YOU need to get into the spirit of things and play whole heartedly, or the kids will instantly be put off. The last thing they want is another ‘activity’ added to their busy day.

Here is a list of games – some I have. Some I want to buy.

Old Favourites:

  1. Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Scrabble (you get a junior edition for younger kids), Pictionary.

    The domino effect

  2. Knots and Crosses – Have uploaded a picture of my friend Muthu’s 3D version (see above), that her mum bought in Channapatna. Isn’t it adorable? All this game needs otherwise is paper and pencil.
  3. Card games – Snap, Top trumps, Solitaire, making pairs from a regular pack – the snap cards make very cute pairs as well. Ishaan is learning about numbers in the tens of thousands and even lakhs, thanks to his Transformers trump cards. I’m not complaining.
  4. Jenga – I watched another friend’s little fellow line up all the jenga blocks and then have them tumbling down like dominos. Reminding me to include Dominos in this list.

New favourites:

  1. Candy Land – A racing board game where the aim is to get from start to finish. No dice or reading required. Good for small kids and if you can find a compact travel version, just grab it!
  2. Junior Boggle – The game is about making 3 letter words. Good for early readers.
  3. Zingo – Matching the pictures type of game. No reading required. Good game for kids to play together on their own.
  4. Tumbling Monkeys – Highly popular and available at almost every toy store. Simple game which requires the child to use his motor skills.
  5. Connect – Another favourite and great to carry on holiday. Players need to make rows of coloured counters, that they drop into slots, to win.

For slightly older kids (though I have seen many 6 year olds enjoy these games as well):

  1. Trivial Pursuit – Get them in different versions – US, British. I don’t know if an Indian version is available. Please let me know if you do.
  2. Scattegories – Quiz type of format with a timer. May need adult help.
  3. Monopoly – Would recommend getting the classic version as it is timeless – who can forget expensive old Mayfair?
  4. Cranium – mixes trivia with party game activities and uses many skills. There are a number of different versions – Cadoo for kids and Cariboo for younger children.Just cracked open a box of Cadoo this evening and though my son and his friend needed our help, they loved it! It lets them draw, act, make models out of clay and has some general knowledge thrown in. The best part was Ishaan was happy to read (something he needs practise with at the moment) without kicking up a fuss. Yay!
  5. Anomia – winner of the 2010 Mensa Select Award – a much coveted award given to 5 original and challenging board games every year. Players compete to give examples of a word on their opponents card. Sounds simple, but is challenging as you have to think on your feet. Comes in a compact, small box and can be carted around in a handbag.
  6. Bananagrams – a variant of Scrabble and again a good travel game as comes in a compact case. Players race to arrange one’s tiles faster than their opponents.

Other indoor stuff:

Cross words / Word searches / Riddles – check on the internet for age appropriate ones which can be downloaded free. Print them out and keep them handy – perfect for waits at the doctors, airport or even in a traffic jam! I found some great primary school level freebies at this site http://www.abcteach.com/

Puzzles – I must confess I haven’t sat down with my kids enough to get them interested in puzzles. However we just got a great return present for Laila – an ‘Early Puzzles’ set made by a company called ‘Creatives’. The set contains  4-6 pieces per animal – (dog, cat, goat and horse). It’s a well made puzzle which fits well and is easy to do.

What are y0ur favourites and what works for your kids? Would love to know  🙂

Cheers!

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6 thoughts on “How playing Scrabble helps me bond with my kids

  1. Hey Zee, great post…its so true, isnt it. Its easy to put the child in front of the Tv but really not creative on our part !! A board game or an activity book occupies the child’s mind and is fun to boot. My little one and I generally spend every afternoon figuring out some new activity to do together. It could be a project to make something (princess crowns, painting pots, cooking something fun together etc) or play a board game…Snakes and ladders is really a classic! Puzzles, memory games, joining the dots, mazes etc are all fun.

    • Would love to put up some of the stuff you guys do – with a tutorial if possible 🙂 Would be great to use this as a place to share creative and fun ideas that we could do with our kids. The princess crowns sound very tempting :))

  2. The part about the “happy relaxed environment” is really true…most kids these days tend to balk at being preached at…the best way to bond with kids to a large extent is by sharing in their fun and games, that way your not just viewed as a boring/strict parent or teacher.

    And the board games suggested here are super….I’m going to try them out with some of the kids from my class 🙂

    • We has fun the other day vish – mummy, sashi, the kids, tiger and i – playing zingo (which sashi rigged to help laila win) :))) and then an amazing game called cadoo. we’ll play something the next time ur over 🙂

  3. hey zainab…very cute. and ab true about board games. we play monopoly and cluedo..ludo and closeup and a few more…it s fun. there is a lovely game called pictureka.
    🙂

    • thanks Varsha. Forgot about Cluedo! We used to play it as kids and loved it. And just spotted pictureka in reliance this evening. was thinking maybe i should buy this, but was not sure. will pick it up on my next visit there 🙂

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