Wednesday, December 21, 2011

holiday gift guide: games (part 2)

one challenge that i have with four kids of such diverse ages is trying to spread myself out to spend quality time with each kid.  if i play a game with one or two, another one is either too old or too young to participate.  i really appreciate games that can be played alone or with the help of one other person.

smartgames fall exactly into this category.  we own the police blockade game.  bill and i have spent a lot of time playing this ourselves (there may or may not have been some competition involved!).  zoe really likes this game herself.  it has been a great one to bring on trips, since she can spend an hour or so trying to work out the different puzzles.

each game come with a book that provides challenges at different levels.  for example, in police blockade, you start with a board that has the buildings and the "bad guy" on the board.  your job is to surround the bad guy with police cars so that he can't drive out and escape.  each of the games has a similar booklet with all kinds of challenges that can fill a lot of hours!

until recently, i thought these were the kinds of games that tessa and tate would have to wait to play until they were older.  i was so excited to discover that this is not the case at the chicago toy and game fair.

for tessa, this castle game is a great way to practice thinking strategically.  the pieces are solid and well made.  she enjoyed trying to figure out how to put the castle together to match the picture.  the posts have to fit in the holes in such a way that the blocks match the picture.  again, there is a range of challenges from simple to more complex so this is a game that can grow with your child.

this truck game is a great entry-level strategy game for someone like tate.  the truck can be played with as a regular truck.  but it is easy to ask someone like tate to try the challenges of fitting the blocks in the truck to make the cargo level. 
i spent some time with this chicken game at the chicago toy and game fair.  the game has plastic plates with chickens on them in varying positions.  you place the challenge card under the lid and arrange the chickens to cover all the eggs.  i have to admit, i wasn't very good at this one.  i definitely need some practice!
even lilianna doesn't need to be left out!  i think she (and the other kids too) spent a really long time playing with these:

these are very large magnetic pieces that can be put together to build anything imagination can come up with.  lilianna liked using the curved pieces as a phone.  i can see how having these long term would help her develop fine motor skills and creativity.  i really hope she can get some of these some day soon.

i have not received any compensation for writing this post.  these are toys that we really enjoyed when we used our free pass to the chicago toy and game fair.  the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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