Thursday, June 7, 2012

We Build It: An Impromptu Family Time Game

When our family is actually all home together after dinner at the same time, we sometimes play games as part of our quest to SMILE.  Not too long ago, we came up with ain impromptu post-dinner family time game that was a big hit.

We Build It
A Family Time Game that Promotes Early Reading, Early Math, Creative Thinking and Cooperation


·       a basket or bin of SmartMax Extreme (one of our favorite Timberdoodle splurges ever; other building materials could work too, such as pipe cleaners, Tinker Toys or Wikki Stix)

·         a spinner with numerals on it (We have one from an old Game of Life with missing pieces that we tossed. We like its 3-D aspect and the fact that it has numerals 1-10 on it.) 

·        scrap paper with target words written on them (We used basic CVC words, with some challenge words and words from favorite DK Star Wars early readers thrown in, such as "blaster", which Nina surprised us by reading!)

·         imagination

a blaster gun

Cooperatively design and build a creative structure.

Building a Star Wars Blaster

Set Up

  1. Place bin of building toys and deck of word cards in the center of all players.
  2. Spin to see who will go first.
  3. Have Player One draw and read a card.

Simple Steps to Play

  1. Player One draws a word card and reads it.  Whatever it says is the inspiration for what the group will build.
  2. Player One spins the spinner and chooses the same number of pieces from the building toy pile as is shown on the spinner.
  3. Player One begins building the structure with those pieces.
  4. Player Two spins the spinner, chooses pieces according to the number shown and adds to the structure.  (No one may take another player’s pieces off the structure.)
  5. Play continues as such until a player finishes adding his or her pieces to the structure and suggests that the structure is complete.  when this happens, the other players must come to a consensus of if the structure is, indeed, complete, or it other turn should be taken to complete it.
  6. Once a structure is complete, Player Two begins a new round by drawing a word card.

    • Reading (decoding phonics, recognizing sight words or both)
    • Fine Motor Skills (picking up cards, spinning spinner and manipulating building pieces)
    • Numeracy (recognizing numbers, adding pieces, etc.)
    • Creative Thinking (creating and adapting structure)
    • Cooperation/Teamwork (working together to create a design)
    • Problem Solving and Flexibility (figuring out how to adapt the design someone else has begun match the one you envision in your own mind)
    • Focus (concentrating on the goal of building the structure to match the word card)

Quick Tips/Extensions

  • If the youngest children in the family don't get how to play, simply give them a chance to add a few pieces on theri own.
  • This game can work for individual play, too.  After playing as a group, my children liked simply reading cards, spinning the spinner and building creations singly at times while I was occupied with chores.
  • To encourage crossing the midline,  set bin of buildable pieces on one side of the playing space and designate the other side as the building area.
  • For children who need extra proprioception, set spinner and pieces at one end of a hallway or room and a tray for building on at the other.

We’d love to hear your ideas for variations an extensions of this game, as well as TV-free ways you enjoy post-dinner for family time!


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