We are on a first named basis with Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Sofia the First in our house. We speak of these characters as if they are members of our immediate family. Our son who is 4, and is smack dab in the midst of his preschool career, a year and a half ago abandoned his crib and diapers and replaced them with demands for a cell phone and requests to stay home alone.
The past few years have been a roller coaster ride of tantrums and frustration while we set up our boundaries as parents, trying to promote life lessons of being respectful, communicating with words not actions, compromising and sharing.
These are tough lessons for kids to learn and our little guy is a master negotiator. The word “No” does not exist in his vocabulary. Though we hope this drive and determination will serve him well in his adult career, there’s only so much lecturing we can do as parents. I think that’s why Jake, Sofia and Doc are our best friends. These identifiable characters give Gavin a reference point for what matters within his world. For some reason he associates these hard concepts with scenes from his favorite shows. It’s his real world application.
Wonder Forge has designed some awesome Disney Junior games for preschoolers that feature these adorable characters and target the same types of skills we hope our children in this age range are learning. My favorite thing about Wonder Forge games lately is that many include great storage options using pieces that store inside velcro bags, while also designing manipulatives with their games that double as fun pretend play toys.
Sofia the First Magical Tea Time
In this game, “treat” cards are placed in the center of the game on the board. Each player is provided with a tea cup and placesetting. In addition, there are 3 colored Fairy Headmistress Plates. On your turn, the child turns over a treat, then matches it to one of the 3 Head Mistress Plates. If their treat has a teacup picture, they use the puffer teapot to blow on the tea in their cup. They take all of the treats from the corresponding plate that matches the color of their tea. Players use the teapot to pour tea for the other players, ending with themselves.
There are 3 “Good Manners” cards rewarding children with extra tokens for learning to keep their elbows off the table, standing up and taking a curtesy or bow, as well as those who frequently say “please” or “thank you.”
Even if younger children are only interested in color sorting the cards, the teapot, teacup, treat cards and place settings double as great toys for a tea party.
Doc McStuffins All Better
Included in a sweet Doc McStuffins doctor’s bag are “bandages” (remember those fun slap-on wrist bracelets?) and foam doctor’s tools that include a magnifying glass, otoscope, stethoscope, syringe, reflex hammer and a thermometer.
In this game of memory, children spin the spinner. If it points to a bandage, they pick up a bandage, state the name of the tool on the underside, then attach the bandage to their arm or leg. If they spin “using a tool” they pick a tool then try to “fix the booboo” by matching it with one of the bandages a player is wearing. If they are correct they receive a scoring tile that has small hearts on them. The player with the most hearts wins, leveling the playing field with a fun element of surprise. Just because you matched the least amount, doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance at winning.
Jake Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game
This hide-and-seek matching game is perfect for busy kids. Having an active child, games that challenge his motor skill seem to also engage his attention. Some children are just dynamic learners and their strengths don’t lie in sitting crossed legged on the floor, patiently waiting for the next turn.
This game is also stored in a storage bag with velcro opening, saving great playroom shelf space. Children hid 5 different cardboard treasures around the play area. Plastic treasure doubloons are placed on the treasure map. Children take turns flipping over the doubloons searching for a match. There are secret “3D” doubloons that can only be seen by peering through the spyglass. If the child makes a match, they grab the sword, flip over the sand timer and race around the room, bringing back the treasure on the sword, before time runs out.
What are your favorite games for preschoolers?