It has been quite a while since I’ve written one of these! The end of the year is always busy for us here at I:T, between holidays and birthdays, a lot of things get skipped! There have been some inquiries on the continuation of this series, so, now’s as good a time as any to keep it going!
In Part Four, we talked about Stack Up! by Peaceable Kingdom and how it adjusts to provide challenge to a range of ages and abilities. We have, for the most part, just repeatedly played a lot of the games mentioned before, such as Stack Up!, Animal Upon Animal, Chutes and Ladders, and Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. We play with foam/large acrylic dice, mostly for number recognition, and we have started playing dominoes to hone matching skills. It may be a while until he can play Mexican Train with the family, but he’s certainly able to be on someone’s team and help!
If you’ve been reading the Raising A Geekling series from the beginning, you know that our geekling’s first official game was Zombie Dice. We had the zombie be “boomed” to adjust for the little audience, and he enjoyed the concept. This year for Christmas, we got him Dino Hunt, a dice game from the same company that makes Zombie Dice (Steve Jackson Games). In Dino Hunt, you are capturing dinosaurs for your zoo. You either roll a dino face (a catch or point), a leaf (the dino is hiding), or a foot (you got stomped!). It is a bit more tame, and the geekling has recently taken a strong interest in dinosaurs, so win-win!
Sometimes we actually play for points, and sometimes we just roll to see how many dinosaurs we can get with one roll, passing back and forth. His curiosity about why it is hard to roll certain die faces on the different dice is growing, and although he’s only 4 right now, I forsee a discussion about probability in our future! But that’ll be a while off still (I hope).
It is definitely a tamer version of the game, and one that I’d think almost any kid would enjoy. The game is marketed to kids 8+, but my 4 year old is absolutely capable of playing, even if it is with some guidance. The geekling has an uncanny tendency to want to “push his luck” when he’s got 4 dinos and 2 stomps! Sometimes I let him do it without pushing him to stop – 4 year olds don’t always understand risk. And sometimes, losing his dinos is the best lesson.
FEED THE WOOZLE
Another game that we got in shortly after Stack Up! was Feed The Woozle. This title by Peaceable Kingdom is more of a motor skills game than a board game, but it is fun nonetheless. In Feed the Woozle, a player rolls a d6 and tells the active player the number it shows. That player then places that many “snack” tokens onto a large plastic spoon. Someone will use a spinner which will instruct the active player on what they must do while walking towards the Woozle stand. These actions can include hopping, spinning, walking backwards, and more. The aim is to do the action while keeping all the snack tokens on the spoon, and depositing them into the Woozle’s mouth. If you drop a certain number of snacks, you lose the game, and you win with a certain number that was successfully fed to the Woozle.
We break out Feed the Woozle when it is too cold/hot/rainy to go outside, but we need to get some wiggles out. It gives the geekling a chance to flex those muscles and motor skills, and to help with his focus while he rolls dice/spins spinners when it is my turn. (It is more difficult to hop with a shallow spoon full of cardboard tokens than you might imagine). As with Stack Up! there are varied levels of difficulty to play with so a group of kids can still enjoy this.
A Word About Kids Losing Games
We are entering the stage of life where the geekling wants to win everything, and falling behind or losing has the potential to turn to tears. I am no expert on child psychology, but I do believe that allowing your little ones to experience 2nd or last place is crucial. As an adult, I feel that I learn the most about a game when I fall behind or lose – because it enables me to build strategy, think through problems, and builds my drive to be better. Not only do we want our kids to have that kind of passion for gaming, but having that mentality towards life in general will empower them to do great things!
When my geekling struggles with a game, we talk it out. We discuss how Mom and Dad don’t get upset when we don’t win, and why. We talk about how to look at a loss and say “Congratulations!” to the winner, realize that it just a game, and that he has a wonderful opportunity when he loses – he gets to try again another time! Encouraging them to say positive words to the winner will teach them to be a good sport, no matter the game outcome.
How do you handle frustration in kids when they don’t win games? Discuss with us!
Until next time, happy gaming — with your kids!