Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Books can be games?

I tiptoed down the hall to see how Daddy was doing with the bedtime story, and I heard laughing.

Oh, great! They are wrestling... again!

After peeking around the corner, I saw them draped over Daddy's lap, while he was reading one of their bedtime favs, Goodnight Moon.

Goodnight Moon isn't a funny book. What is he doing now?

After listening a little longer, I heard Daddy say, "Goodnight bears. Goodnight hairs!?" followed by a big laugh and "Noooo, Daddy. It's CHAIRS, not HAIRS."

So clever, he was checking their memorization skills and having fun. Could that really be possible?

My hubby stumbled onto something, and I was intrigued. I started thinking back to my Usborne days as an Educational Consultant and all of the boys' trips to the library for story time and realized that there are so many educational games we can play with kids and toddlers!

I'm not referring to activity books, mazes, or dot-to-dot books. I mean the books that you inevitably read over and over and over to your child.

Here's a quick example: 

Before you start feeling sorry for me that I posted a picture upside down, you're probably having the same reaction that your baby or toddler would have: Oh, no, the book is upside down!!! I have to fix it!

Yes, I meant to do this. It's a game... a real game.

By simply turning a book over and act like you are going to start reading, you are playing a game! Your child may laugh or give you an "are you ok?" look, then they will try to fix the book for you. It's a great learning tool and one of those "I have to remember this reaction forever" moments.

Another one of our family's favorites... Use one of your child's favorite books or one that you've read a gazillion times this week and change just one word. Don't even try to make it rhyme, just put in something completely out of context and wait for a reaction.

For toddlers that don't have a large vocabulary yet, try skipping pages and wait for the protest to start (especially if it is one of their favorites). They are learning sequence, and this is a great way to check on their progress.

You are going to be amazed at how much your child really has memorized. For me, it has made me step back and think about what I want my children to see and hear. It is so humbling to know that I am responsible for training up this child -- what an honor!

For preschoolers and kindergartners, use a look and find book that they have done several times. In a silly voice, ask them to find an object that is not on that page. If it is somewhere else in the book, help them hunt for it. This helps them start to think outside the pages of the book.

How do you know if a book is good for playing games? Ask yourself: is it a children's book? If the answer is "yes," then it can be used as a game on some level. In my limited experience, I have found that some books offer more games than others. Here are some things that I like:
  • Babies: make sure they can turn the pages with you, so they can turn a page back with you try to skip a page. I've found that some board books are hard for little hands to turn because the cover is the same size as the pages.
  • Toddlers to preschoolers: books with bright colors and contrast offer a lot of stimulation and interest. Plus, books with a lot of busy scenes on each page will give you both something new to discuss each time you open the book. That way, the book can be read many ways without too much boredom. Even if your toddler can't hold a conversation with you, they will enjoy the banter. Plus, you are beginning to teach them how to hold a conversation.
  • Preschoolers and kindergartners: Use books with rhymes... almost like poetry. It helps my boys with memorization, which is not something that I have ever pushed. However, they like to have it memorized, so they can be ready for Daddy's reading tricks.
These ideas are what have worked for my boys. Just play around with these ideas and add your own to find out what unlocks your child's world.

What ways do you mix things up with your books? Do you have any games you play with your kids?


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