Monday, September 16, 2019

Games for Brains: Carcassonne

Playing Time: 30 min
 Players: 2-5

I'm kind of surprised that I haven't posted this game sooner! It is one of our favorites to play when it is just Xander and me.  It plays well with two, takes essentially no setup, and can be played pretty quickly (important for games during the baby's naptime). This is a tile laying game, where you choose where to play your tile and whether or not to place your Meeples on it.  There are different ways you can place the Meeples, that let you score different amounts of points.  It's mostly a strategy game, although there is a component of luck in what tiles you draw. Note: we do play with the Abbot and the River, which are mini-expansions that come with it.  We have not actually ventured into buying full expansions yet.

Brain Value:
Until actually playing with Xander, I didn't realize what a good visual/spacial game this was.  At first, he had some trouble figuring out why he couldn't play tiles in certain places. Once you'd point it out to him, he'd see it immediately, but he had to learn to pay attention to all sides of a tile. I also like that this game takes some planning ahead and weighing decisions.  For instance, you have to decide whether you want to add to a city, potentially getting you more points, but also potentially making it harder to finish. Xander has been playing with me for years, but in the last year or so had gotten much more strategic!

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Red Week

Archer is 15 months

In August I posted our Color Themes Goals. Those are what I had in mind while we started Tot School this week, not actually learning the color.
His little shelf had several books about colors.  I also got out two of his Non-Fiction Sight Words books and one of his Meet the Sight Words readers.  He LOVES his sight words books right now, much better than regular story books. I'm going to go with it! The poster was free from Isla Hearts Teaching on TPT.
Playroom shelves this week.  The goal of the toys is to entertain him and give him some fine motor practice.  Things like building, sorting and puzzles also provide some spacial awareness (math and even physics). The file box and game on top are part of Xander's Afterschooling Activities.

Shelves include color viewer, lacing apple, red sorting food, rainbow stacker, latch barn, peg pop up toy, rubber blocks, cars and garage, safari puzzle, red discovery basket and safari truck. (A lot of which were second hand).
Red discovery basket with miscellaneous red toys
Red foods 3 part cards (free here). I still did most of the matching for him, but we did it every day. We also did the corresponding Little Reader lesson to go with every day, that kid LOVES words!
Coloring his Red Book (free here)
I got out the tunnel and took him to a couple of parks for Gross Motor. He's only 15 months, so that's still good practice for him.
Red light table play (more pictures on this post).
Looking through his color viewer, although a plastic storage lid works too. (We got ours second hand, but it was originally from Lakeshore Learning)
Life lesson, finger paint tastes yucky.
Sorting activity turned gross motor?? I didn't actually plan on getting out the vehicle counters/counting bears this week, but Archer goes straight to that bin every time we're in the basement.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pets Vocabulary Cards

Archer loves words! He loves doing Little Reader lessons, loves watching  movies that teach words, loves sight words books and pointing out all the words he knows/can say whenever he sees them.  I want to keep feeding this passion, so I made this set of 3 Part Vocabulary Cards for him with common animals.  
I used animals to go with the Pets Toob, for an extra matching activity, since enjoys playing with the little figurines.  I imagine it will still be a few months before he can match them up entirely independently, but for now we will do it together.

You're welcome to download the Pets Vocabulary Cards here.
You can check out my other free printables here.

Note: because Little Reader already has a few lessons on common animals, I did not make a Little Reader lesson to go with this set.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Light Table and Magnetic Tiles

We had a couple of rainy mornings while we were doing our red week as part of our color themes.  To pass the time, we got out the light table and a bunch of different red magnetic tiles.  Archer LOVED it.  I could not believe how long he sat there putting tiles on, moving them around, taking them off.  Anyone who has a toddler knows that things that hold their attention for more than a minute or two are a big deal!  We will definitely have to repeat this activity for some of the other colors!
Our table is homemade, but Amazon has some options, too.  There are big table versions that are definitely more of an investment and thinner panel versions like this one and this one. 

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Games for Brains: Evolution the Beginning

Evolution: The Beginning
Playing Time: 30 min
Players: 2-5

The biology teacher in me could not resist the line of Evolution games.  Since I bought this one when Xander was about 6, I bought Evoultion: The Beginning, which is supposed to be the simplest and easiest to learn of the line. In the game you have species, which you evolve traits for and have to feed to keep alive.  Different traits add protection or allow predators to eat their prey. In the end, you want to have eaten the most food. This game takes about a half an hour, which I think is a good time frame.  I'm not sure if we'll buy the "full" version of Evolution, since it is supposed to take around an hour and be more for heavier gamers. On the other hand, it is science and we do play some complex games, so maybe.

Brain Value:
First of all, I like that this game uses real terminology like "species," "population," "trait," etc. However, it does take a little bit for some non-science nerd players to distinguish between species and population.  I also like the idea of the species evolving to help them survive, easily letting Xander grasp the concept of natural selection. Since you have to balance adding population to being able to feed them, there is definitely some strategy involved.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Games for Brains: Zeus on the Loose

Playing Time: 10-20 min
Players: 2-5

Zeus on the Loose is a game I bought for Xander a few years ago. It's a relatively simple card game that is good for elementary math skills.  You add cards to the discard pile (Mount Olympus) and have to say the new total of the cards.  You get to steal Zeus when the total reaches a multiple of 10, you match the previous card, or one of the god cards lets you. You want to end the game with Zeus to win. While we liked the game, it is one that we have kind of grown out of for the time being.  Xander has mastered addition and multiples of 10.  He's moved on to more difficult math, plus he tends to prefer some of our more challenging games. That means this is a game we probably won't play all that often until Archer gets a little older.

Brain Value:
Great for elementary math skills.  Includes addition and multiples of 10.  The god cards bring in some strategy and the booklet includes information about each of the gods.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ice Painting

While summer coming to an end, it was time to get in some ice painting.  I froze some water with a three drops of food coloring in each compartment of the ice cube tray (could have probably used less). I used a star tray, because my little guy is obsessed with stars.

To make things easier, I used a poster board rather than regular paper, but any kind of paper would work fine. Then we headed out into the sunshine!
I was really surprised that he didn't mind the cold.  He wanted to carry the stars around! 
Archer is little enough, he just used his hands to smear the ice around.  An older kid could use popsicle sticks (even frozen right into the cubes).

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