Family Fun Unplugged: Best Board Games and Books (Grades Pre-K-5th)
Holiday vacation from school is just around the corner, and family get-togethers have started. Wouldn’t it be nice to interact with each other without electronics? Reading and playing games together can help develop social skills such as verbal, questioning, listening, and reading skills. At school, teachers are competing with electronics and TV. Therefore, non-electronic games are a great way to teach concepts in an entertaining way.
6 Holiday Books for School and Home: Reading Together and Activities
According to the Harvard Graduate School of Education webpage in the article All About the Books: How can parents and educators turn the page on kids who are reading less and computing more? by Mary Tamer published March 3, 2015, there are certain benchmarks in a child’s development that are promoted by social interaction. Nonelectronic games and books can help develop certain social skills. Click this LINK to read this article.
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Unplug with Family Games
Here are some games that have proven to be giggle-inducing, interactive, and some educational.
Uno Card Game- (Ages 3- Adult) 2-10 Players
There are different variations of this game. If you click the photo, you can view a video. Younger players can match colors and numbers. Older players can create different rules using the directions.
Candyland-(Ages 3+) 2-4 Players
This classic game helps kids match and identify colors. There are many different versions of this game such as Candyland with Disney Princesses. Children do not need to know how to read for this game.
Rat-A-Tat-Cat (card game)- (Ages 4+) 2-6 Players
There are variations of this game. It teaches timing, strategy, mathematical concepts, and memory building.
Clue Jr. (Board Game)–(Ages 5+) 2-6 Players (small Parts not for children under 3)
This is a twist on the classic game Clue. In Clue Jr., players have to figure out who ate the last piece of cake. This teaches deductive reasoning/process of elimination.
Monopoly Jr. (Board Game)- (Ages 5+) 2-4 Players (small Parts not for children under 3)
This is a great twist on the classic game. It teaches basic money budgeting (counting, addition, subtraction) in one dollar denominations. There are different versions including Disney Cars.
Headbanz- (Ages 6+) 2-6 Players (small Parts not for children under 3)
From the manufacturer, “Kids will use deductive reasoning skills with the game’s simple question-and-answer premise. By making connections and coming up with questions that will lead to answers, kids will also practice creative critical thinking skills.”
5 Second Rule Jr. –(Ages 6+) 3 or more players (small Parts not for children under 3)
You have to think fast! Name 3 items in a category before the wacky timer runs out in 5 seconds.
Slamwich (card game)- (Ages 6+) 2-6 Players My friends and family loved the tin lunch box collector’s edition
Anytime I played this with kids, we all ended up giggling. It gives kids a chance to slam the cards. (We usually played on a carpeted area as to not hurt ourselves.) This is about hand-eye coordination.
Life (Board Game)- (Ages 8+) 2-4 Players (small Parts not for children under 3)
This is a fun and educational classic game. Kids will learn money management. They will need to strategize and use deductive reasoning when they make decisions. There are a number of different mathematical concepts involved.
Sushi Go (card game)- (Ages 8+) 2-5 Players Parent’s Choice Recommended (small Parts not for children under 3)
This game teaches probability, visual discrimination, and strategic thinking.
Pictionary- (Ages 8+) 2 Teams (small Parts not for children under 3)
In this version of the classic game, there are clues for kids and adults. The faster you draw, the faster your teammates can guess.
Yaztee (Dice Game) – (Ages 8+) 2- or more Players (small Parts not for children under 3)
In this classic game, you score points for a full house, straight, 3 of a kind or 4 of a kind. This teaches strategy because you have to figure out where to score each turn. It also teaches probability.
Clue (Board Game) –(Ages 8+) 2-6 players (small Parts not for children under 3)
This is the more classic version. Players have to figure out where a murder happened, who did it, and in what room. This teaches deductive reasoning/process of elimination.
There are so many different versions of this clue like Star Wars, Harry Potter… I just got the Harry Potter versions because there are quite a few different rules and elements that add a whole new dynamic to the game.
Apples to Apples Jr. –(Ages 9+) 4-8 Players
This party game works on Comparison Skills, building vocabulary, and thinking skills.
The Great Dalmuti (Card Game)- (Ages 10+) 5-10 Players
Life isn’t fair, and you can go from The Great Dalmuti (head of the kingdom) to the greatest peon (the lowest ranked player) in one round of play. This game will have you switching seats (based on your rank) and strategizing how to get ahead.
6 Holiday Books for School and Home:
Reading Together and Activities
(Ages suggestions are not set in stone. You know your children best.)
1. Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (Ages 2-6) Grades PreK-K
Jan Brett weaves an enchanting recreation of the classic folktale of the Gingerbread Man. Humor and mayhem ensue as the Gingerbread Baby runs throughout the village encountering a motley crew of different characters. There is an adorable surprise at the end. Pictures in the side pages can lead to predictions about what will happen next. There is a pop up surprise at the end. After reading the book, ask the children to sequence the characters.
Teacher makes a Gingerbread House out of a large cardboard box. Take a photograph of every student in front of the Gingerbread House.
Activities: Art: Marbled Candy Canes– White art paper in the shape of candy canes. Depending on the students’ age, the students can trace and cut the candy canes. Then, in a copy paper box lid, place the candy cane cutouts. Next, use red paint on marbles, and roll the paint around in the box top. Decorative Gum drops– Cut out large circles from different colored construction paper. Decorate, and paste a small photo of each student on a different Gumdrop. Then put gumdrops and candy canes on the Gingerbread House.
Science- Bake Gingerbread Baby (Have paraprofessionals/parent volunteers help) You will have to schedule the kitchen ahead of time and make sure that all the baking supplies are available. Have students watch the Gingerbread Baby go into the oven. Then, while they are at a Special
Reading/verbal/listening- Scavenger Hunt to find the Gingerbread Baby. The first clue will be in the Gingerbread House. Before you create the Scavenger Hunt, check with the people who you will be visiting. Examples might include Nurse (Mrs. XYZ) The clue might read: If you skin your knee, this is who you will see. Go there now, and get your next clue.
Writing: Make a class book. Have each student draw him/herself running after the Gingerbread Man. Have the refrain typed out on each page, “Run, run as fast as you can. __________(Have student write his/her own name) can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man. Rotate so that each student gets the book to bring home to his/her family at least overnight to read together.
2. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff and Illustrated by Felicia Bond
(Ages 3-8) Grades PreK-2nd
Numeroff and Bond are at it again. A rascally mouse gives new meaning to the saying, “if you give an inch, he will take a mile.” The little scamp wants to go to the movies, and then embarks on a string of requests that takes us through a series of winter activities. Humorous drawings set the tone for this silly book.
Before reading the book, you can ask your kids “what kind of winter activities can you do?” Write them down. Then, discuss the results as opposed to the book. The children can also sequence the story after you are done a reading.
3. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Illustrated by Jane Chapman
(Ages 3-8) Grades PreK-2nd
Bear Stays Up for Christmas has vibrant and endearing pictures of Bear and his woodland friends. Rhythmic rhymes accompanied by charming drawings leads to an entertaining read.
Reading/Listening: During Reading: predict what is going to happen next. After Reading: have the children tell you words that rhyme from the story. Write them down.
4. Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda (Ages 3-9) Grades PreK-3rd
This stunning pop-up book is the epitome of paper engineering. This is not for children’s hands because of the semi-delicate paper engineering . This is a great read-aloud for young ones learning to count. Also, little ones will like the rhyming words.
Writing/Art: Children can create their own counting books by drawing pictures and writing/ having paraprofessionals or parent helps to write what the children say. Then, the book can become a book that travels among the different families.
Older kids, such as 5th graders, can create their own paper engineered counting books that they can share with the Book Buddies (kids that they read within younger grades).
5. Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Illustrated Ed Martinez
(Ages 5 -9) Grades K-3rd
Too Many Tamales is from the perspective of a Mexican family that makes Tamales at Christmas time. Maria and her family are making Tamales for a family gathering. An important item gets lost, and the hijinks begin. Will the valuable keepsake ever be found?
Writing Prompt: What family traditions/customs do you celebrate with your family during the holidays? Use descriptive vocabulary.
6. Pop-Up Peekaboo! Christmas by DK Children
(Ages 2-5) Pre-K-Kindergarten
If you want your 2-3-year-olds and younger to interact with a pop-up book, this is the one! This suggestion was inspired by one of my wonderful readers that is looking for a great holiday pop- up book for children around age two. Pop-Up Peekaboo! Christmas is a delightful Christmas story that uses sing-song rhyme rhythm. With bright photos and basic concepts and vocabulary, this book is geared toward the very young. The board book platform is more durable and designed for younger hands, and the pop-ups are more basic and sturdy. This makes is the perfect holiday book for little ones. You will want to buy pop-ups new because no matter how much people say it is in “good condition”, this evaluation is subjective. I read a lot of reviews that were angry about the condition of the used books.
Reading/verbal/listening skills: Ask your kids the questions, “What’s hiding behind the Christmas tree?”
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