Monday, November 20, 2017

Preschooler Milestones and a Game That Helps Reach Them - Building Character Through PLAY!

I had the pleasure of attending the SoCal Moms Wellness Event last weekend at the beautiful Marion Davies Guesthouse on Santa Monica Beach. I was excited to bring my son to this one because not only was it a smaller enclosed event, but I knew there would be activities to keep him busy, and one of his good friends was also attending. I always love learning about new products for babies, but getting to meet creators of products for big kids that don't involve technology tend to really peak my interest.

Although my son, and most five year olds, can be very sweet, they still have a tendency to see the world through self-centered eyes. As much as we try to model empathetic behavior for our kids, we don't always see the results of this as quickly as we would like. At this age kids can notice what emotions others are going through and put names on those emotions. But when it requires a child to put another person's needs first, they don't always follow through with an empathetic act demonstrating true understanding of wanting to help another through a difficult time.

Enter Meghan DeRoma, Cofounder of Wannaplé and creator of the board game Silly Street. She had a simple toy was on display where the kids had to figure out how to swing a ring on a string to catch on a distant hook. As simple as it was, it held their attention for a very long time, almost as long as the LeapPad! While my son played, determined to win like his older friend already had, I had the pleasure of talking to Meghan DeRoma.
silly street
Not only is the board itself a big puzzle (big win for my puzzle loving kid) but the images and graphics on it are very eye catching.  The game pieces are wood circles with cute animal faces and the cards you draw to play with do not disappoint visually either.  This award-winning game inspires creativity, encourages healthy competition, promotes strong communication and rewards all around silliness.  In addition, it also helps promote empathy and social skills through the activities they have to complete on the game cards.  After my son finally caught the ring on the hook, he was overjoyed to be able to take the game home.  In fact, he even got an opportunity to try out the game on the spot with Meghan while I visited other vendors at the event.

We brought the game to a friend's house and my son, who normally has to always go first, offered to let his friend go first. And when my son didn't win a round, he didn't get upset. The friendly competition throughout the game really has improved his ability to work with others in a more positive manner.  When his friend was having difficulty completing a task on her card, my son was encouraging and tried to help her, even though that meant it would help her get closer to winning.

Although being able to read isn't necessary in order to play the game, encouraging my son to read the cards he draws in order to complete each task has been great for his sight word recognition as well as building his confidence. I love that some of the cards require the player to create a story about a character pictured on the card. Silly Street creates a fun environment where my son gets to demonstrate his ability to invent a story with a definite beginning, middle and end, including exposition, conflict and resolution has made this storytelling mama extremely proud.
Preschool Board Game
Overall, I highly recommend this game. As much as I love traditional board games from my childhood that help with counting, color and shape recognition, this game has a great balance of learning and fun. I am a huge advocate of play-based learning and this adorable board game fits in-line with those principles. After all, who doesn't love a friendly match of Rock Paper Scissors or a Thumb War now and then, especially after a visit from the tickle monster?  You can get your very own copy of Silly Street online at Target, Amazon, Toys R Us or Barnes and Noble this holiday season!

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