Plant some money and see English appear – Commercial Board Game Edition

family-game-588908_1280I live in a country where English isn’t the native language.  Yet, my workplace is mainly populated by English native speakers.  As my friends start getting children at home, I am often asked, “What is out there that is already made that I can use to teach my stepkids English?”  I’ve given out this advice enough times that I think posting it online will make it simpler for me.  So here is my unscientific but, tested and proven on my own bonus children game advice.

We play Candyland to work on color names and basic number skills.  You can also focus on basic sentence patterns like, “I got a green.  I got two yellows”  In our family we also use different greetings when we land on the same space as another player.  That way we can use all of the different ways we can think of to say hello (hi, how do you do, good morning, etc.) We also use every type of good bye we can think of when we leave the space with the other person.   We also may or may not make the candy figures dance when they land on the same space as another person because as my daughter says, “You can’t just say hello and then leave.  You have to dance before you go.”  Wise words from a seven year old.

We had to ship it from the US but, it is available on Amazon UK quite often.  

Guess Who – This is actually a fairly advanced game as they not only need to know lots of vocabulary, they also need to use deductive reasoning.  My husband and I always split up so Kiddo 1 and Kiddo 2 both have an adult helping them.  You can practice the same basic question format, “Does your person have …” We usually do a quick game of ‘Where is your eye, nose, hair ….’ before we start.  For us, the questioning skills were a bit hard at first, with 2 six year olds, so we played it in their native language several times before we switched it to an English game.

Bonus points for this game as I’ve seen it in every country that I’ve lived in,  It is more often translated into the native language as, ‘Who am I’.  

Twister combines the color naming aspect of Candyland with the body part learning of Guess Who.   You can focus on key sentences such as, “Move your left/right ____ to ____ a (color) space.”  At the beginning the adults said these sentences but the kiddos quickly picked up the pattern and started giving the instructions in English on their turns.

This game is also generally available and even called Twister everywhere that I have lived.  Though the picture makes it fairly recognizable if it is translated into a native language.

Yahtzee is great for larger numbers and for words like, “double, triple etc.”  There are many variations of yahtzee and depending on the age of your kiddos you might want to try a modified version first that takes out the higher numbers.  We often play a Smurf yahtzee with my daughter so that she is focusing just on the idea of doubles or triples (i.e. triple Papa Smurfs) only and doesn’t need to do the additional multiplication or adding. However, if your kids are ready for larger numbers, this is a great way to practice them.

Available as a commercial game almost everywhere.  You can always just buy six dice and then print out yahtzee score sheets online.   

Memory  You need a basic version, not a movie version, unless you are focusing on learning character names in more than one language.  My kids are bored by the basic memory but they quite like Memory scavenger hunt.  My husband and I hide the cards around the house and yard and then let the kiddos go search for them.  They can’t take the card unless they already  know where the match is located.  This gets them moving which is always a bonus for us.  You can follow them around and have them tell you what each picture is in English or you can wait until the end when they show their matches and see who has won.

I’ve seen multiple versions in every country I’ve lived in.  You can usually find it quite cheap at garage sales/boot sales/flea markets or on used resale sites.  



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