Saturday, February 20, 2010

Deceptively Simple Games to Play Anywhere

I don't like winter...there, got that out of the way! I know so people who love waking up to new snow and are excited by the prospect of cuddling up in a blanket on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate to watch a good movie. Not me. I have been aching to spend time outside.

However the weather hasn't cooperated much this winter. It's always been too icy or windy or down right cold. Now normally this wouldn't bother me at all. I'd just put on an extra shirt, two pairs of gloves and head out! But I can't really justify dragging my kids outside just because I want to be outdoors. I've even stopped checking the weather forecast because it never depressing.

It's gotten to the point though I have to do something to keep my boys occupied quietly, at least part of the day, or my couch won't survive. I'm pretty sure they view it as their very own trampoline/diving board.

If your family is like mine you probably have a pile of board games gathering dust; Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Checkers are just a few of what makes up our pile. However these aren't too handy to take to church or a restaurant or other public places when you need a quick way to keep your kids busy. I've found a couple of games that are very simple to set up and play anywhere. They are deceptively simple to set up and play but in reality take a bit of strategy to win.

The first is Seega, an ancient Egyptian board game. The board is nine squares similar to tic-tac-toe. The game begins with pieces placed as above. Players take it in turns to move one of their pieces either one or two squares in a straight line on the board. Players can move in any direction but cannot pass over another piece.

The winner of the games is the first player to get their three pieces in a straight line,(diagonal included), other than the starting line. You may laugh at such an easy looking game but my five year old son Yap beats me on a regular basis!

The second game is Mu Torere from New Zealand. The game board is a star and can be a six or eight pointed star. Each player needs half as many markers as there are points to the star. Theoretically, I suppose, you could have as many points on your star as you wish as long as it is an even number.

And should be set up like this to begin. One players pieces on one side and the others on the opposite. Simple.

The first player to move must move an outside piece to the center.

The next player moves a marker to the empty point of the star.The players take turns moving their markers from one star point to another or from a star point to the center of the star. The players can't skip over markers. There can't be two markers on one point at the same time. A player can move only from one point to an adjacent free point or to the center if it is free.

Your strategy is to block your opponent (like above) by getting your markers on the points surrounding your opponent's markers and by having one marker in the center. When that happens, your opponent cannot move and is blocked from play. That's how you win at Mu Torere. My son was so excited to learn this game and has been teaching anyone who is slightly interested how to play! (Math Wizardry for Kids)

These games could be played anywhere; at the beach drawn in the sand with some rocks or on a piece of paper with a handful of coins. I like the simplicity of these games and yet both games can get kids of any age thinking and problem solving. Hope these games come in handy for you and your family!

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