This Thanksgiving week, families will find themselves in the usual chaos: preparing food, cleaning the house, traveling to relatives, or finding room for relatives to visit. In the middle of all that, you have little time to bond with the kids, much less encourage them to think. Sometimes, it seems like an impossible task, and the temptation to sink into the couch for hours of TV each night can overwhelm you.
That’s why the entire week of Thanksgiving is also called “National Game and Puzzle week.” From Sunday through Saturday, when families gather together, out of school and work, this theme reminds people to spend time enjoying each other’s company — through games.
For many years, scholars have studied the impact that gaming can have on cognitive abilities, interpersonal relationships and stress levels. The results are overwhelmingly positive: Games can actually strengthen connections in the brain as well as improve connections among friends and family! The key is to find the right games and play them in moderation.
A Michigan State University study reports that kids who play games experience spikes in creative thinking and abilities. Not only is creativity fun, but it is a special life skill that can be useful in school and become essential in the workforce. Playing games with kids over holiday breaks may do more than help them behave for a few hours; it may also prepare them for a lifetime of success.
In addition, games that require human interaction and collaboration help strengthen bonds. Any parent or teacher knows how much kids thrive on acceptance. Playing a game together is a great way to help the kids develop the skills they need to fit in with friends.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that these games should require more than one person to play. This week is about gathering together and collaborating in games. While many fantastic single-player options are available, try to find something that encourages the family to interact and that everyone can play. That’s where the true holiday fun comes from!
Consider a multi-player fitness games, such as “WiiFit .” You and your family and friends can find many others like it; they are considered “party” games and can be a lot of fun.
Or try classic card games such as “Old Maid”, “Go Fish” and “Animal Rummy.” These types of games function like traditional board games, but they focus on matching, pairing, and recognizing numbers.
Grab a pen and paper and write out a word, such as “BOOK.” Then take turns changing one letter at a time to make a new word:
See how far you can go!
Driving long distance and don’t have space for a console, board, or even pen and paper? No problem. Play old road-trip classics such as “I Spy” or “20 Questions,” and watch the boring car ride turn into a fun family event.
Can Schools Get in on the Fun?
Of course! Before the holidays begin, prepare kids with ideas for National Game and Puzzle week. Play games in the classroom and teach them about different titles they might share with their families. Remember: While single player games are fantastic, this week is all about playing together. Make teams, challenge opponents, and encourage healthy interaction.