We were recently sent ABC from Brainbox games from the Green board game co. This is a ten minute brain challenge game recommended for age 4+, so it was ideal for my 4 year old to test out and he was very excited to get started.
The Brainbox ABC box contains a sand timer, 1 die and 53 cards. There is a card for every letter of the alphabet plus others for two letter combinations producing the same sound at the start of each word – like “ch” “sh” “cr” “sl”
On every card the letter or sound is written prominently and there are several pictures of things starting with that sound. You use the sand timer and look at the pictures until the time runs out, then turn over the card and roll the dice. There are six questions on the back, so if you roll 1 then ask question 1, roll 2 for question 2 etc. It is quite simple and my 4 year old very quickly and easily picked up these rules. The questions on the back test how much information has been retained from looking at the card.
As as example, the card “Dr” has pictures of a dress, a drink, a dragon and a drum. The child could be asked
- What’s the main colour of the drum?
- Does the dress have short or long sleeves?
- Is the glass less than half full?
- What colour is the straw in the glass?
- How many words beginning with “dr” are shown?
- What is the main colour of the card?
The first couple of cards my son didn’t always get the answers but he soon realised he has to pay a lot of attention when looking and he quickly managed to improve his skills with it and he did really well and retained loads of the info so he was getting most of them right (and feeling pretty pleased with himself too).
This activity helps to improve children’s concentration, memory and recall skills, as well as reinforcing the letters and sounds. I like that the cards feature the combination sounds, as that is something it took my little boy slightly longer to get than the single letters and when sounding out words which do have two consonants at the start, it is easy for them to miss out the 2nd letter – eg snake, and he would miss the ‘n’. I have been told this is quite a common problem so focusing on these combinations is brilliant. It all helps develop their phonological awareness.
I also found this game quite handy for getting my little boy to practise his reading without him really noticing and feeling that he was doing a lot of work. After he had taken quite a few turns with the cards, I suggested that we should take it in turns so I ask him a question then I will roll and he asks me a question. Of course he then has to read the question himself. Although he is progressing quite well with his reading, he can be slightly reluctant at times. At first he did say “you read it mum” but after explaining to him that if I read it then I will be cheating because it’s my question and I must not look at the card then he was more eager to make sure I don’t see it and read it himself.
This was a great game for him, and definitely ideal for his age and stage. He found it fun and I was very happy with the educational benefits of it, so a win-win situation. I also really like the box, its very compact and handy and snaps closed with a magnet in the front fold of the box.
I also found the cards good for my 3 year old. Not to play the game in a structured way as he is not at the level to do that yet, but he was quite interested in the cards and wanted to look at the cards and attempt to repeat the words. (For any readers not aware of my family, my 3 year old has very delayed speech due to Verbal Dyspraxia and Autism). Anything which encourages him to vocalise and make an attempt at more speech is a definite thumbs up from me and he was quite interested in seeing what his older brother was doing with these cards. I was able to use some of the questions with him, not using the timer or expecting him to memorise, but just using them as a prompt while looking at the card, and he was then able to point at his answer or try to say the word he wanted. I was actually very impressed with how well he did with these!
I would say the game is pretty versatile and flexible in this way. It can be used and adapted for the stage your child is at and they will still get benefit out of it. If your child is slightly older and more advanced, then they can play as a written challenge where after turning over the card they have to quickly write down the answers to all 6 questions and see how high they score.
This is the first game we have tried from BrainBoxGames, and I am very pleased with it and will definitely keep them in mind for the future. On the BrainBoxGames website you can actually play some of the games online! This is a very interesting feature to help you out if you are not sure which one to buy, so well worth having a look.