One Sunflower

if it’s spring..

on May 14, 2011

it’s card playing time in the preschool classroom.  I was reminded of this fact by the writing of a fellow blogger at Elbows, Knees, Dreams.  This is one aspect of spring that I thoroughly enjoy.

Games are a favorite of preschool children.  Most of my students don’t come from homes that play games so I introduce them in a particular sequence.  Most importantly, I want the to be enjoyable which means making the playing of them a successful experience for everyone, regardless of age and ability.

I begin the year by introducing the Bingo and Lotto games which are the easiest to play and learn.  I use our Memory games as matching games so they aren’t frustrating; the play is all about turn-taking and visual discrimination skills.  Usually by the time spring vacation rolls around, my students are learning how to play Candyland.  (This is the game I find the most tedious to play with preschoolers.  I’ve been known to surreptitiously place all of the “candy” cards at the very end of the deck so that everyone moves to the end of the board and then it’s a total crap-shoot as to who wins.  I know…wicked!!!)

I love picture dominoes because children of all ages can play with them in a game-like manner.  My youngest students just find matches and start building roads, my oldest students strive to play the doubles as often as possible to maximize their options.

My all-time favorite games are card games – real cards.  I have Fish games and Old Maid games created especially for children but I like regular cards the best – because you can play all the games with one deck.  Once I see that I’ve got students who are going to understand how to pay attention to the numbers, shapes and colors on cards, I’m down on the floor ready to teach.

The first thing I do is lay all the cards out, face up, in rows and ask the students to find matching pairs.  This helps them notice the differences between hearts and diamonds, 6’s and 9’s, Kings, Queens and Jacks.  I introduce the names of the shapes and some card game vocabulary like “deal,” “face up” and “shuffle.”   The next game I teach is High-Low or War.  The kids who know their numbers help the ones who don’t.  In the end, we are all counting points so it adds up to learning. Fish and Crazy Eights are the last games I teach but we play with all the cards face-up.   That way the games are totally transparent and everyone gets to  see and learn the strategies.  Sometimes by the end of the year I have students who are ready to play with their cards close to their chest – but not often.

At this time of year my students are wrinkling their noses about writing in their journals.  Fine, I’ll just haul out the deck of cards and we’ll sit on the floor and make-up fun stories together as we match and sort and one-up each other in a game.

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