The joy in the games children play

Isaac Toby iPad

One of the most joyful aspects of our Christmas was watching the variety of games our children played over the break.

Across the Christmas fortnight, all manner of games were played among various combinations of players, in particular during the three days that my parents and brother stayed with us.

It was an opportunity to break out traditional games such as chess, Connect 4, Game of Life and Monopoly Junior. But the boys also explored newer games such as Appletters (a word-making game that is a variant of the popular Bananagrams).

In addition, all three kids are dab hands at Dobble, a card game that involves racing to dispose of your hand by identifying matching pairs between cards that uniquely have exactly one symbol in common with every other card in the deck. It’s like playing a high-speed game of Pelmanism/Concentration. The best part of it is that ability is largely independent of age – indeed, both boys (aged eight and nearly six) are better than I am and Kara (at 3½) can hold her own too. And to give everyone an equal chance we also adopt a handicap system whereby the better players start with more cards in their hand. It’s a brilliant little game and one we played repeatedly.

It wasn’t all board and card games, of course. There were iPad and computer games aplenty and Isaac is saving up for a new Xbox, so as an intermediate step we now allow the boys to use my PlayStation, which has been sat quietly in a corner being used exclusively as a Blu-ray player for the past few years.

Tech-loving boys that they are, once I’d plugged everything in they were soon playing Minecraft and driving games without me having to show them what to do. Instead, I’m quietly watching from afar picking up tips from them!

The cherry on the icing on the cake, though, was that this was the first Christmas when Kara was also old enough to get in on the gaming bug. She’s already adept with an iPad but she’s now also mentally and physically competent enough to engage in games such as Guess Who …

… and Twister.

Kids playing TwisterWhether it was getting involved in games with the kids or enjoying a brief respite from the hubbub and chaos as they took themselves off to play on their own, this was as fun and relaxing a Christmas as we have ever had with the kids.

Both Heather and I are keen board game-players, so we’re delighted to see our kids embrace games that don’t involve screens or hand-held controllers. Hopefully we can continue to play more games as a family throughout the year, and we’re looking forward to introducing the kids to more games in the future.

Now can someone please show me how to play Candy Crush?

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