We have a lot of games. I like games. My older kid LOVES games. My toddler-almost-preschooler, always wants to do whatever his awesome big brother is doing and so he loves games, or at least all the pieces and components of games.
It's not so easy to play the same game with your 7-year-old and your nearly 3-year-old at the same time.
As you can well imagine.
But I have found a solution to satisfy the little one's curiosity. While big brother is at school, I started to bring the "older kid games" out of the closet for for my little one to play with. I encourage you to do the same! (Note: affiliate links included below)
Benefits of repurposing game pieces for preschoolers
The benefits of pulling out those games are numerous! Below I will show you some real life examples of each of these skills. Playing with game pieces develop the following skills:
- Fine motor muscle development
- Sensory integration
- Independent play and work
The best benefit of all for a harried parent or other caregiver is that the game pieces will keep your child occupied for a pretty good chunk of time!
IMPORTANT: Now, of course I need to mention that you should never, ever let your little ones play with game pieces without appropriate adult supervision. Game pieces are small and present a choking hazard. Please use common sense. Obviously if all your child wants to do is stick everything in their mouth, do not choose this activity.
Example of Games We Repurposed
Here a few example of how my youngster has been repurposing game pieces for his own ends. (These aren't the greatest photos, but you'll forgive me.)
Skippity game is excellent for color recognition, sorting skills and pre-math skills. My son likes to sort the chips by color. He doesn't know it, but when he places an individual token on a square he is learning "1 to 1," a foundational math skill. That foundation is further enhanced as he develops his fine motor skills while staking the tokens.
By the way, Skippity is such a fun game that I made it our game of the month so you can learn more about it here.
MORE: Use the game pieces for a stacking activity!
Needless to say, playing around with Scrabble tiles is a great way to promote letter recognition. Sorting and lining them up develops patterning skills, important for mathematics. And again, he is exercising those fine motor muscles!
Boggle has a lot going for it. First of all, how much fun is it to make a huge noise by shaking the box! Okay, so maybe a bit annoying for mom or dad, but remind yourself of the benefits and you will have an easier time of it. Making (and enduring) noise is great for sensory development. Plus it takes some coordination to keep the lid on while you shake. And if the lid comes off? Well, then he is learning cause and effect, plus how to clean up after himself!
Additionally, placing the cubes in individual slots is not only good for fine motor muscle development, it is a 1 to 1 math skill, while recognizing the letters is wonderful for literacy.
My son adores putting Chinese Checkers pegs in the holes! And what skills is he practicing? You guessed it: fine motor and math. But also, this kind of independent work takes patience and focus, important foundations for good executive function.
A similarly constructed game we have is Colorku. He loves to play around with the colorful wooden marbles in the same vein as Chinese Checkers. Colorku was also a game of the month.
Rush Hour Jr.
Okay, let's face it, Rush Hour, Jr. is all about the cars. This single player logic game is a never-ending source of entertainment in our household. My older son can play it all day and my little guy loves to place the vehicles on the grid and drive them along the tracks, which takes more dexterity than you would expect.
While engaging with the game pieces and board of Rush Hour, Jr., my preschooler is engaging in pretend play, fine motor skills and learning about patterning.
P.S. Looking for a gift for a 4-6 year old kid? I always recommend this game. It's the #1 recommendation on my games gift guide.
So next time you open the game closet, put on your toddler and preschooler glasses. What will they love playing with? Remember, they don't have to follow instructions in order to play a game. After all, aren't rules meant to be broken?
More games for toddler and preschoolers: