I’ve become a toy grump. On a recent visit to a toy shop, I spent most of my time grumbling about the large number of expensive and unnecessary toys.
High on my list of complaints are toys that can be easily played without spending a cent. An egg and spoon race game, complete with fake eggs and spoons - why not simply use a real egg and spoon? A hopscotch kit - what happened to simply drawing a hopscotch court onto concrete with chalk? A hang man game - all that is really needed is a piece of paper and a pencil. All these games came complete with an expensive price tag and loads of packaging.
At almost seven years of age, Little Eco has outgrown many of her board games. I contemplated buying her a few new board games – but then someone reminded me about playing cards.
There’s dozens of games for children that can be played with a standard 52-card deck.
We’ve started playing cards as a family after dinner. Our favourite games so far include Go Fish, Old Maid, Memory and Snap. On our list of still to learn are Spoons, Crazy Eights, Slapjack, Solitaire and 21. I remember playing many of these games as a child, but given that my memory is a little hazy, I’m thankful that the rules for these and more card games can be found online.
I like that cards are inexpensive, easily portable and endlessly adaptable.
Card games are also a great way for children to learn a range of skills, including counting, taking turns, patience, basic strategy, following rules and fair play.
We’ll increase the complexity of the games as Little Eco gets older. I remember my parents spending many evenings with friends playing Euchre and 500 – so I’m looking forward to finally learning how to play these games. I might even learn how to play Bridge, Canaster and Poker so that I feel equipped to join in card night at our local community hall.
Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 18th January 2014.