Setting goals, winning and losing, taking turns, counting and sharing are just some of the great skills a board game can encourage. And making your own game, as well as playing it, means double the fun.
Your board game can be based on anything you like. A favourite character or story is always good – it could be Little Red Riding Hood making her way to Grandma’s cottage or the three little pigs being chased around the board by the big bad wolf. It could be something entirely of your own imagining. The important thing is it reflects your child’s interests at the time.
First, make your board. For the youngest children, leave the boxes blank and keep it to a maximum of 20 spaces. Older children can use a numbered board with up to 40 spaces. For five-year-olds and over, you could experiment with different number sequences, such as counting in twos or 10s. Keep the fundamental concept simple – eg. first person past the finish line or to collect all the items – you can always make it more complex later on.
You can use a die (one is best for young children, two for more capable mathematicians), or make a spinner, using a piece of card and a cardboard arrow connected with a paper fastener. Spinners allow you to change the moves you can make in the game. E.g. 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 2,4,6,2,4,6 or even +1, +2, +3, -1, -2, -3. You can even use pictures or colours, each one meaning a different thing. You simply have to agree that if the spinner stops on the wolf, for example, that means move back two spaces, or ‘Game Over’, etc. Possibilities are endless with a spinner.
You can also make an outdoor version on the patio, using chalk. Or a super-sized one, again with chalk, that you walk through yourself, rather than using pieces. The spaces have to be big enough to fit a person, like a hopscotch grid.