The Montessori Approach to Family Game Night by @montessori.spaces
Game night is a fabulous way for our family to slow down and be intentional about our time together. We often look forward to family game night at our 3-year-old, Sonny’s request. Game night in our Montessori home usually includes preparing a fun snack to enjoy with our games and spending time together making memories. I look for engaging, educational, and fun games for the whole family.
We began including Sonny in our family game night at age three as a way to bond. Games also provide a multitude of opportunities to refine skills. For Sonny, playing games encourages skills such as taking turns, building concentration, and reinforcing vocabulary. Challenging games also develop his self-confidence and refine his problem-solving skills.
When looking for Montessori-aligned games, I begin with themes that interest Sonny. Finding games that interest your child will make them more engaging and enjoyable. For example, Sonny has a fond interest in animals, and many of our Skillmatics games incorporate giving descriptions, comparing sizes, and matching photos of animals. When choosing Montessori-aligned games, I look for ones that utilize realistic (non-cartoon-like) images. Skillmatics games have such charming and engaging illustrations. I also find it necessary to choose well-designed games that will last for years to come. Games with durable pieces are crucial, and I continue to be impressed by the durability of Skillmatics games.
Guess in 10 Junior
Guess in 10 Junior (Animal Kingdom) is one we have enjoyed during family game night. We have modified the rules to introduce this as a team-like game while Sonny is still learning the game concepts. Guess in 10 Junior utilizes Game Cards (one animal on each) and Guider Tiles to ask questions about the animal on the Game Card. Sonny and either Dad or I work collaboratively to ask questions to try and figure out the animal in question. This game utilizes problem-solving and critical thinking to guess the animal. Guess in 10 will grow with our family as Sonny masters the skills needed to ask and answer questions independently.
Memory Match (Animal Planet) is an engaging game with two ways to play.
Game 1: using the Game Boards (one for each player) and the 34 game tiles, this is a fun spin on a traditional memory match game. Players turn over a tile to see if it matches with an animal on the individual’s game board. If it does not match, place the tile face down where it was picked up. This game is especially engaging for preschool-age children because of the limited number of animals (six) on the game board.
Game 2: the second way to play encourages matching the animals on the tiles to the groups they belong to (farm animals, birds, underwater animals, etc.) by rolling a die with corresponding animal habitats. This second way to play provides an enjoyable challenge.
Family game night is always fun when a game can be played collaboratively. Working together to refine skills needed to play individually is how we play Called it! After dividing the game cards, we each turn over one card from our pile in the middle. We then work together to identify which animal of the three is the largest and model how to call it out. Sonny especially enjoys the fast pace of this game.
Boom Boom Bingo
Its name suggests fun, and it is no surprise that Boom Boom Bingo has become a family favorite. The unique features of this bingo game continue to engage us over and over. Players each have their bag of game tiles, and once the timer starts, we reach into our respective bags to pull out an animal tile in hopes that it matches an animal on our game board. Play continues until time runs out. We then pass the bags of tiles to the right, restart the timer, and play continues. Sonny enjoys the independence of turning over the timer and loves calling out “Boom Boom Bingo!” when he finds a match.
In our Montessori-inspired home, family game night is an opportunity for everyone to choose a game that interests them. Sonny enjoys picking his favorite game of the choices provided and game night is not only a time to bond but also a time for learning valuable skills. Practical life work allows Sonny to learn to follow a recipe while preparing a game night snack. During gameplay, he utilizes executive functioning skills to focus, take turns and refine working memory to complete the game.
Game night has become a fun, go-to activity for our family and is a time we all look forward to spending together. Skillmatics games play an essential part in our choices for Montessori-aligned games and will continue to be a part of our future game nights. When looking for games that provide opportunities for learning, skill building, and family togetherness, we recommend Skillmatics!
Nikki of Montessori Spaces is a certified K-12 Spanish teacher and now a stay-at-home mom to 3-year-old Sonny. She and her husband found inspiration in the Montessori approach to parenting during Sonny’s infancy. For Nikki, Montessori at home provides opportunities for showing respect for her child through opportunities of independence in caring for himself and his environment. Montessori at home allows all family members to share common spaces that meet everyone’s needs. Nikki enjoys sharing activities, favorite materials, and the designful Montessori-inspired spaces of her home on her Instagram page @montessori.spaces.