The following post is shared by Malia, a former teacher and founder of the early literacy company Playdough to Plato! Malia reached out to ThinkFun after finding our games to be fantastic language tools, and she was eager to share them with her readers! In this post she shares her experience with Zingo! and What’s GNU?
Several weeks ago, my boys and I had a play date with one of my supermom friends and her children. I casually mentioned how excited I was to start playing games together when the children were a little bit older. Sportsmanship, perseverance, teamwork… There were so many healthy life skills that games help develop.
As soon as the words “kid-friendly games” left my mouth, my friend jumped up and walked over to a large shelf filled with activities for her children. She took down a medium-sized royal blue box and asked, “Have you played Zingo!?”
“No,” I said. I’d never even heard of it before. Hmm… My curiosity was piqued.
Just as my friend placed the box on the table, her four year old son noticed the flash of blue out of the corner of his eye. “Zingo!” he shouted as he ran over to join us.
My friend opened the box and pulled out a bright red thingy-majig and a set of game boards filled with pictures and matching labels.
“The rules are simple,” she explained. “It’s just like Bingo but with a twist. It motivates children to practice reading. I promise it’s addictively fun.” It sounded like a dream come true. But I was still skeptical. Could it really live up to her rave reviews?
We invited her 2.5 year old daughter and my 2.5 year old son to join us. This would be a great test. Could young children actually play the game on their own? To my surprise, her daughter jumped right in. “I LOVE Zingo!” she said. I mentally added another tally to the list of Zingo Fan Club members.
My friend invited my son to slide the red tile dispenser forward and back, revealing two bright yellow tiles: an owl and a bat. She asked him to “read” the words on the tiles. “Owl and bat,” he said. Then she asked him to look at his game card and check for matches. He had an owl. “Owl!” he shouted.
“I have an owl too,” the little girl said. My friend explained that the first player to say the name of their match could take it. She invited my son to grab the tile and add it to his board. Then he slid the dispenser again dropping two new tiles.
The game continued for several minutes until my friend’s four year old son filled his board first. He was crowned as the official winner, creating a perfect opportunity for us to model how to be good losers and offer a heartfelt “congratulations”.
Without a second thought, the three children jumped right into playing round two. As parents of 2.5 year olds understand, there are few things that occupy my son’s attention for more than a minute and a half. I was blown away!!
The moment my boys fell asleep that night I hopped onto the computer and ordered our own Zingo set. We could finally enjoy a family game night!
In addition to Zingo, ThinkFun also offers another early literacy game called “What’s Gnu” that I couldn’t resist adding to our Amazon cart. To play, you spread out cards showing two letters and a blank. One player slides the tile dispenser to drop two tiles.
Players must race to use the letters that are revealed to make a word on one of the cards.
The player who has made the most words when the tiles run out wins the game. I can’t wait to try this with my oldest son in a year or two. It’s a motivating, entertaining way to practice sounding out words and is PERFECT for beginning readers.