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5 Unusual Ways to Enjoy Classic Games With The Fam

5 Unusual Ways to Enjoy Classic Games With The Fam

Next time you want to enjoy some family fun together, consider some of the most popular classic games you may already have on hand. You’ve played UNO, Chess, Monopoly, Candyland and Scrabble, but have you played them like this?

5 new ways to enjoy classic games with the kiddos

Each of the games I’ll share with you today can help kids think, listen, follow instructions, and consider choices and their consequences. You can teach them to identify their feelings as they practice making decisions. Playing each game is rewarding by playing the classic way, but you can make it even more fun and beneficial for your child with a few new ideas. Game on!

1. Use UNO card colors to identify emotions

Leverage that pack of UNO cards with a focus on identifying emotions. I recently shared some fun social emotional activities to try with kids and playing UNO is one of them.

This past year, you may have noticed many schools focusing on social emotional learning (also known as SEL) and teaching kids strategies to help kids work through their feelings, cope with strong emotions, and even get along with others. After the challenging year our school-aged children have had, it’s important that we continue working on these important life-skills at home. And playing UNO is an easy and fun way to do just that!

For a new way to play, start by distributing the UNO cards, which come in four colors (red, blue, yellow and green) and explain that each color will stand for a different emotion.

For example, a green card can stand for feeling happy, calm or focused, while a red card can stand for feeling angry, blue or being sad. Once you begin playing, every time a color match is made, ask your child to use an emotion word that aligns with that color. Then ask your child to share an incident or time when they felt that emotion.

2. Play Chess to Get Smarter

Playing chess is a great opportunity to help develop logic, critical thinking, and creativity in your child. A good game of chess can help increase concentration and memory, develop problem solving skills, and even build confidence. And yes, your child might have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good chess player, but it will help develop a scientific way of thinking and teach them to be patient, persistent, even resilient. Not to mention how to be a good sport, even when feeling frustrated about another loss.

I could list so many more benefits to playing chess but for me the most beneficial is that it teaches kids that they must learn how to play and win gracefully. Don’t miss the opportunity to play chess and make your children smarter. Especially because it’s a great way to engage your child’s mind off screen. Still, there are some great online board game versions of chess that you might enjoy playing with your kids if you are on the go!

3. Reinforce math skills by playing Monopoly

Not only is Monopoly a fun game, it’s also a great tool that can help you teach and reinforce important math skills. It’s no secret that there are certain math skills your child needs to learn, not only to do well in school, but also to do well in the real world.

One of the most important math skills your child can learn from playing Monopoly is how to count money. Although you might think this is an easy skill, often it can be quite difficult for young school-aged kids to fully grasp. Especially when kids are required to count a combination of different bills. The good news is that no matter how difficult this skill can be, your child will benefit from your guidance as they learn how to count money while playing Monopoly.

I love that Monopoly offers many opportunities to count money in a variety of quantities and can offer kids the opportunity to practice making change by letting them be the banker. Each time a player makes a purchase, ask your child to hand back any change for that transaction. This will teach your child how to subtract money in order to calculate the correct change needed.

Kids can also learn about dollar value; different properties on the Monopoly game board have different values.  They can decide if they can afford to buy a property and if it’s worth the investment. This will help your child figure out how to weigh in on the property costs versus the expected return. Math skills matter!

4. Play Candyland with Purpose

I’m sure you played Candyland as a kid. I know I did! Now as you play with your own children, make it a purposeful learning experience. While playing Candyland, kids can work on taking turns, build social skills, practice counting, and even learn how to deal with disappointment (if they pick up that card that sends them back to where they started).

In addition, Candyland is a great game for little kids to learn how to follow rules, understand directions, help little kids learn their colors and can help develop speech as they talk and practice new vocabulary during play.

While playing, you can teach descriptive concepts and introduce social-emotional vocabulary. You might even use the game to help little kids understand possessive pronouns and teach them to use my/your while taking turns during the game. The learning possibilities are sweet!

5. It’s Never Too Early to play Scrabble

As an adult you may already love Scrabble, so why not introduce it to your kids? Scrabble is one of those games that can endlessly tease your child’s creativity and continuously build their vocabulary skills. A fun game of Scrabble presents a great opportunity to foster learning through play and empower your kids to think outside the box. What’s also great is that Scrabble isn’t just beneficial for language development, it also builds confidence and develops concentration. Not to mention, playing Scrabble can encourage cooperation and build stronger bonds between family members playing together. 

To start, you might want to begin by playing Scrabble Junior, as this game for younger children is played by matching tiles to letters on the board. This will make it easier to play, help build familiarity with the alphabet, and make it easier to learn the rules of the game.

If you are playing traditional Scrabble with kids, you can make it easier for them to score by using small words, actively help them use 2-letter and 3-letter words, and practice adding prefixes and suffixes to words that might already be on the board and make it easier to quickly create new words. Make it fun and your child will be a word master in no time!

Playing classic games with the whole fam can be beneficial to their learning and development of real world skills (and get them off screens!) Enjoy family game night, have fun playing and learning together!


The 15 Classic Games Every Family Should Have

Want to enjoy more family game nights? From Monopoly to Jenga, make sure you have these 15 classic games ready to play!

About The Author

Monica Encarnacion

Monica Encarnacion is a digital parenting writer and consultant for top online publications, including Common Sense Media, where she shares expert reviews of bilingual books and apps for kids. As a passionate content creator, she’s worked with brands such as VTech, ClassDojo, Microsoft, Verizon, and Lego Education. A NYC native, she writes about her family’s digital lifestyle and love of travel on her blog, NYCTechMommy. A former bilingual educator and technology teacher, Monica is passionate about identifying resources that promote learning and help kids (and families) make connections with the world beyond the classroom.

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