How is it possibly time for the holidays already? It seems like only yesterday we were picking pumpkins and dressing up for Halloween! November always flies by and then I’m unprepared come December. However unprepared, it’s always a fun time of year and one of the most fun things to do is toy shopping to discover what new, creative, and language oriented games are out there!

So many games for little ones focus on numbers/shapes/ and letter recognition. While exploring those concepts are great, problem solving and creative thought should not be left out. I talked a bit about problem solving in last year’s Holiday Gift Guide, but would like to explore it a bit more this year.

Logic games are typically thought of as games for teens or adults, but if you look closely, you will see many of them now have versions appropriate for younger kids. Often, the name is the same, but with a “Jr” added to indicate it’s for younger kids (e.g., Apples to Apples, Jr or Labrynth, Jr). The Original Memory game is a great example of a simple game working on problem solving. This game is appropriate for kids as young as 2 years and remains interesting for kids between 5-6 years.

Trucky 3, Three Little Piggies, and Peek-A-Boo Bunny are logic games for the 3 and up crowd. They all involve looking at a picture and manipulating the pieces to mimic the picture. In addition to working those problem solving skills, they provide many communication opportunities between child and parent/caregiver (e.g., asking for help, describing their strategy, talking about what they are doing).  If you’re familiar with the book “Press Here”, the game that accompanies it is a perfect example of a logic game, involving creating your own patterns and explaining why you made that choice.

Logic games for the 5+ crowd include my current favorite, Obstacles by Eeboo. This game involves not only problem solving skills, but coming up with creative solutions to clear silly obstacles.  Hiss, Labrynth Jr., Rush Hour Jr, and Guess Who are other games that promote skills such as prediction and strategy.

Finally, my “good for all ages” problem solving games are not really games, but…puzzles!  Introduce puzzles as early as 9 months with those chunky block puzzles and don’t stop there!  Have your 18 mo-2 year old working on 4-9 piece puzzles and keep increasing the number as the kids grow.  Look for your child to develop their own strategies, such as turning a piece to try a different side. Give them strategies such as looking to the box for the visual cue, matching same colored pieces, lining up the edge pieces, and chunking the puzzle into smaller sections.  In addition to the skills they teach, they can be an activity that families do together, regardless of age. (PS. I love the Djeco brand puzzles; chunky, good colors, and creative!).

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays! Look for my next post on “A ‘construction’ Christmas: how to use one toy for multiple kids and ages”.