What is it about the age of three that suddenly makes every gift come in a million itty-bitty pieces? No, not broken toys, just toys with a lot of parts. As in, parts over here and parts over there. Until you just give up and say, “Oh well, I’ll find them with the vacuum.”
After agonizing for nearly three years with a child who put everything in her mouth, the abundant parts are hard to get used to. Three is also the first year that board games, too, show up under the Christmas tree. They come with parts, too. And really simple instructions.
I try to focus, but halfway through a “rousing” game of Candy Land — all of ten minutes long — my mind wanders. I begin to think, “Hmm, I wonder which food manufacturer underwrote this game? How much artificial color and high-fructose corn syrup would be in all of that stuff? Am I going to have to try and explain what a gumdrop is?”
Ironically, the game with the most parts won me over. Friends who visited for dinner brought this wonderful and simple matching game called “I Never Forget a Face.” It’s basically a memory game, but the tiles used have faces of children from all over the world dressed in different traditional dress. The nationalities include Western cultures like France and Norway, and also countries of current interest like Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq. Play makes for an easy path to introducing diversity and cultural awareness.
The manufacturer, eeBoo, also makes a version called “Life on Earth” with different animals and plants, teaching players about the diversity of life on our fair planet.
Even though the age marked on the box is for five and up, by using half the tiles, a three-year-old can easily play, and beat, a forgetful adult. Ahem. Children can play alone or with more players. Adults may need to pair up in order to compete. For younger players, the game offers a way to teach patience and taking turns. The wide variety of faces being presented is a good message for a younger mind, too.
On the other hand, the best thing about Candy Land, I’ve observed, is that it appears the cardboard and plastic pieces are all recyclable. Good.
[This post was written by Beth Bader.]