Lockdown kids learning through Board Games.

Childhood Magic
5 min readJan 3, 2021
A little girl looking at the boardgame

During Lockdown 1 we discovered the delight and educational value of board games. They can be a great way to develop reading, writing and numeracy skills and introduce new topics and activities in a fun and non-threatening way.

With 3 boys aged 4, 6 and 10, I was sceptical that we would find a board game which they all liked but luckily there are quite a few!

  1. “Sshh! Don’t wake Dad” is the biggest lockdown hit as it’s interactive and easy to play. The boys are fond of playing this game in real life too!

My 4-year-old was so excited to gift this to Dad for Father’s Day and we have played it constantly. It is a race to get the chocolate cake without waking Dad!

Sshh! Don’t wake Dad is an electronic board game. You have to sneak past Dad to the fridge without waking him up.

The unexpected sounds add to the excitement: a howling cat, tinkling bell or Dad’s ferocious snores.

The boys love spinning the arrow to discover which colour square they move to next. The number on the square they land on is the number of times they have to press the button on the bed. If they are unlucky their turn might make Dad sit bolt upright in his bed and yell out loud, so it's pretty authentic! The first player to reach the fridge wins the game.

This game would fit well with Michael Rosen’s poem about chocolate cake and there are some great resources to go with it below. A real-life race to the chocolate cake in the fridge without waking Dad would be fun too. You could make Dad his own chocolate cakes.

2. Pokemon Monopoly is another family favourite. The boys love the tiny Pokemon figures. It becomes very competitive with some wheeler-dealing that Del-Boy would be proud of and finishes with peals of laughter ringing through the house. It is great for counting and adding the numbers on the dice, adding money and taking away amounts to get change from the bank. It is also great for reading, especially the Pokemon version as the characters have such fascinating names.

Pokemon Monopoly. Gotta catch ’em all!

Pokemon cards are a great way into maths problems as they are all about numbers. There is a great free download for Pokemon times tables challenges on the TES website.

https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/pokemon-times-table-tracker-and-assessment-sheets-11337970

3. Simpsons Cluedo kept us guessing for a while and is great for reading and problem solving by process of elimination. The Simpsons characters play the traditional roles from the Original Cluedo game such as Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlett. Again the boys were intrigued by the Simpsons figures and unusual weapons such as the poisoned doughnut.

The Simpsons Cluedo.

Luckily, we were given a whole host of Simpsons comics so my son’s love of the Simpsons has inspired reading galore.

4. Marble Run

A friend gave us Marble Run and my son was so pleased that he hugged and kissed me and said: “I’m so happy we got this.”

GALT Mega Marble Run

It is mesmerizing, open-ended and great for problem-solving so it kept the boys busy and spellbound throughout lockdown. We got several sets so that we can have a mega marble run extravaganza. It’s great for timing how long the marble takes to reach the bottom and learning about gravity.

5. Penguin race

We were transfixed by the little penguins climbing the steps and whizzing down the slide. You can turn the music off if you need a break from the tune. We also put the game in front of the wall, turned the lights out and shone a torch on to it for a magical shadow puppet show effect. The game is a great introduction to Penguins as a topic. We read lots of information books and enjoyed Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. He read it aloud on his stay at home storytime which you can find below along with some links from Twinkl.

Jolly penguin race game with a staircase and a slide.

https://youtu.be/nyyIbEkPh9Q

https://www.oliverjeffers.com/books#/lost-and-found/

https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resources/early-years-story-books/i-l-story-books-story-primary-resources-communication-and-language-and-literacy-early-years/early-years-story-books-lost-and-found

6. Orchard Games have a game for every topic or skill under the sun. The great thing is that if you lose a piece they will send you a new one. Our favourites are the Counting Mountain and the Times Tables one.

Please let me know your favourite games. We’re always looking to expand our collection!

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