Games make a great gift, especially if you are looking for gifts that will be good for the whole family. In a day and age where kids seem to be connected to some kind of electrical device more often than not, it is nice to know that there are lots of game options out there that will keep the whole family entertained. When picking games, I wanted to be sure that they could help in the development of fine motor, gross motor and/or visual skills. I also wanted to be sure that they would help in encouraging good social skills, including good sportsmanship. Many of these games can be adapted based on a child's skill level and his/her needs.
Here are my top picks for the 2016 Holiday Gift Guide:
Happy Salmon-this simple, fast-paced card game that combines visual perceptual and gross-motor skills. Everyone flips cards over their action card after they flip it over; if two people shout out the same action, they celebrate by doing that action together. The first person to match all their cards in their deck wins.
Giggle Wiggle-this is an updated version of the Scatterpillar Scramble game. Kids race to get all the marbles in the hands of the moving caterpillar. Great for working on improving eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills and focus, attention and regulatory skills. For younger children, you can decrease the level of difficulty by not turning the game on while they are trying to put the marbles on.
Willy's Wiggly Web-this cooperative game combines teamwork and the development of fine motor and cutting skills, eye-hand coordination, counting skills and recognizing left and right hands. The purpose of the game is to cut all the bugs free from the web before the spider falls from the top of the web. Once the web and all the bugs are in place, kids pick cards and then follow the instructions to cut the web.
ListMania-this cooperative game for kids 7 and older requires them to take turns to make a list of items in alphabetical order. This is great for working on imagination skills, organizational skills, focus, attention and regulation skills. If you want to work on improving handwriting, this could be a fun way to get them motivated to write! Some of the things you can write about are body parts or things you do at the beach. There are three different ways to play the game.
Pancake Pileup-this is a favorite for the kids I work with! In this relay style game, kids have to pile up pancakes in the correct order based on which card they pick up. Place the pancakes on one of the room and a plate on the other side and kids have to run back and forth while stacking them up. Great for working on gross motor skills, balance and coordination, focus and attentional skills, visual motor and visual perceptual skills. You can encourage social skills by having kids work in teams when playing this game.
Tumbling Monkey Stick Game- this has been a fine motor favorite of mine for a long time. Much like the game Kerplunk but instead of marbles, there are monkeys that you are trying to get out of the tree. Great for working on developing fine motor and grasping skills, eye-hand coordination, problem solving, organizational skills, attention and focus. This game can be adapted to be easier or harder depending on children's skill level.
Yeti In My Spaghetti-another great game to work on the development of fine motor and grasping skills. Place a bunch of plastic spaghetti pieces on top of a bowl and then put the yeti on top. The point of the game is to pick out a piece of spaghetti from the pile without letting the yeti fall into the bowl. This has been a big hit with all my preschool and school age kids! In addition to working on fine motor skills, kids can work on improving eye-hand coordination, problem solving and organizational skills and improve social skills when playing the game.
Thumbs Up-the goal of this game is to be the first to stack a series of rings on their thumb based on the card they choose. Each card has different pictures with different colored objects and numbers on it. Great game for learning colors, improving visual attention and eye-hand coordination, focus and attention and processing speed. Can be adapted for kids of different ages and skill levels.
Sturdy Birdy: The Game of Perfect Balance-this game focuses on improving gross motor, balance and coordination skills. There are 12 cards with different poses on them and kids have to master each one in order to win the game/make it to the end of the line. They roll the dice to find out where to place a beanbag and how long to hold the position. Everyone counts while the pose is being held which helps in developing good sportsmanship skills.