Posts tagged: Connect Four

Ignore the Rules

By , August 22, 2007 6:30 pm


I remember a fun game we used to play when I was in elementary school. Our teacher would have someone bring in an object from home that they would show to the class. The other kids would have to guess what that object was for. It was fun trying to find something really obscure and hearing the creative guesses that my classmates came up with. It was so fun, that I remember it to this day (and believe me, it was a long time ago).

Kids know how to be creative. Often as adults we forget that skill. If it doesn’t have instructions, then we don’t know what to make of it. Our grownup brains love to have rules and guidelines and instructions to help us use a tool, or cook a meal, or play with a toy or game. Most of us expect that things should be done “properly.”

It is so entertaining to give a child a toy (or a “mysterious” object for that matter) without any explanation of “The Rules,” and to watch what happens. My kids really love playing with my button tin for example.

The idea for this post came from a post by Celtic Mommy that I really enjoyed. She wrote it back in June but it has remained in my mind as an interesting topic. Her post is called Playing Games and is about how her 3 year-old is into playing Blokus and Connect Four.

These games are “for” older children than Emerson, yet he enjoys them immensely – in his own, creative way. No grownup has told him: “No, you have to play it this way,” so he has made these games uniquely his own and learns a lot in the process.

Emerson plays Blokus like Tetris, he stacks the differently sized and shaped pieces, trying not to leave any gaps. He plays Connect Four by making different patterns with the black and red disks. I really think that this kind of creative pattern play has to lead to good things for the brain.

So the next time your kids are bored, don’t get out a video, get out a game. Even if it is “too old” for them. Let me know what happens!

(Of course in this day and age, I unfortunately feel compelled to add this: obviously if a game is “too old” due to small parts, be careful that none of them go in the mouth or other orifices, etc., etc., etc. I can see it now – “But ‘Mom Unplugged’ said it was OK to put Blokus in the crib with my five month-old!” NO! NO! NO! That is NOT what I said!!!!!).

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons and photographer Roy Levien Aldaron for this photo. View license information here.

Unplugged Travel Games: Travel Connect Four & Haba Four-in-a-Row

By , August 11, 2007 8:40 am

We just returned from vacation and a great unplugged travel game that I discovered for the trip home is a cute travel-sized version of the game “Connect Four.” The goal, or course, is to get four pieces in a row before your opponent does. This is such a simple concept, yet it encourages the development of strategic thinking skills and can lead to quite a complex game. Plus I can also highly recommend it since it kept my 5 and 6 year-old entertained for the better part of a 4 hour flight (although we might have lost a few pieces on the plane).

Another really nice one (but a bit harder to find) is Haba’s 4-In-A-Row game. We have this one and my husband and I play it more often than the kids! I should have thought to bring it on the trip because the small size (a 4″ X 5.5″ tin) is ideal for travel. Plus, it is wood so it feels like it will last forever. You can buy it here for $6.99.

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