1. Teaching NUMBERS using playing cards
I love playing cards. Not to gamble with kids but to introduce the concept of numbers to my kids. There are many ways to play to reinforce this concept.
a) Big and small – The deck of cards is distributed evenly to each player. If there are 3 players, each player take turns to be the first to throw out a card, the next person has to throw out a bigger number card. Whoever throws out the biggest number card wins the pool of cards. There is a catch here. If you always throw out big number cards in the beginning, you will end up with small number cards towards the end of the game.
What is learnt here: kids get to think of what number is bigger than the number thrown out. They get to plan to reserve cards for the end where everyone has no big cards. This trains their thinking and planning skills.
b) SNAP game – Do you remember how to play “SNAP”? If you have those flash cards with a set of numbers vs a set of counting dots, you can play “SNAP” with your kids.
What is learnt here: kids learn counting and get used to patterns and train them to know the number without counting dots.
c) Memory game – Sieve out pairs of number cards, shuffle, and lay them face down on the floor. Players take turn to open 2 cards at a time. Whenever 2 cards with the same number are turned over, player gets to keep the cards. If the cards are different, they will have to be turned over face down till someone picks these cards again.
What is learnt here: kids learn numbers and train their memory skills.
2. Teaching MONEY
Set up a market stall selling fruits, vegetables, meat, etc using kids’ cooking toy set. Write down 10cents, 20 cents, 50 cents and one dollar on pieces of paper and place them on each sale item. Give your kids some money with many coins of different denominations. Start selling to your “customers”, i.e. your kids. Guide them on giving you more than the price of items and give them back money change. (My kids love this part of getting money change back. They think they earn more by getting more coins back!) Make it more fun by selling their favourite toys as well as reversing roles!
What is learnt here: kids learn the concept of money, how to count money and get back money change.
3. Teaching ENGLISH / CHINESE
Do a “SHOW AND TELL” with your kids! You can take turns to play this with your kids starting with you! Pick up anything, it can be a pen, a tissure box or a favourite toy and start describing the object in your hands. You have to speak proper English or Chinese sentences, add in some simple but interesting vocabulary. Then when it is your kids’ turn, let them rattle on and DO NOT INTERRUPT or attempt to CORRECT their descriptive phrases. Let them be proud of their “Show and Tell” moment. After all, they are “on stage”!
What is learnt here: Kids learn English and Chinese words and build up their vocabulary. The game boosts their confidence and on-stage performance. While you also do a “Show and Tell, they get to learn more difficult and interesting words and phrases from you too.
4. Teaching MATHEMATICS
It is important to recognize patterns to improve Mathematics as many Mathematics concept revolves around patterns recognition. I play board games like “Snake and Ladder” and any games that require dice throwing. Such games enable my kids to recognize the dots on the die for each number. If you use 2 dice, they learn to add the numbers too. Learning music helps on pattern recognition as well. There are endless patterns on music scores. I teach my girl to recognize the pattern of the composition and play on the piano without counting each note.
What is learnt here: kids are trained to get used to recognizing patterns so that they are able to apply them in Mathematics concept.
5. Train the BRAIN
To give a game of “Snake and Ladder” an interesting twist, we reverse the rules with the kids. With the Up the Snake and slide Down the Ladder, the kids have lots of fun catching whoever confuses with the rules. Same goes for the card games where the smaller number card wins over a big number card.
What is learnt here: kids learn to think in unconventional way and their brains are trained to switch thinking from different perspective easily.