Early learning should be all fun and games – or at least, appear to be for our growing toddlers!

Rolling into the long weekend with a special unveil of the latest Djeco games that just made it to our toddler section!

Whether we’re looking at manual dexterity, observation, memory skills, problem solving, or logical reasoning, one thing these super awesome games have in common is the need for social integration and group play – which goes a long way in shaping critical social skills involving impulse control (taking turns) and structure (following rules).

It’s probably what makes games as important as toys for our toddlers as they move from parallel play environments to more collaborative ones; and the earlier we get them started, the better adjusted they become.

Game on, little fingers!

RECOMMENDED AGE: 2½ years & up
OBJECTIVE: To be the first to collect 3 carrots, 3 peas and 3 rabbits.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: Players take turns drawing cards from the pile, and depending on what the card shows, proceeds to place the corresponding item on their circular game board. There are peas, carrots, and rabbits to collect… but, at any given time, players can only have a maximum of 3 carrots and 3 peas on the board – so if you’ve already got 3 carrots and you draw another carrot card, it’s kind of a missed turn for you. Also. There are foxes hidden in that deck, so whenever you draw a fox card (we’re sorry), you lose one rabbit from your board.

WHY WE LOVE IT: The game’s two-player design sets a very intimate bonding tone for parent and child (or child and child [or parent and parent, we don’t judge]); and while it may seem like such a simple game at first glance, Little Collect is actually coding at its most fundamental. Because of the multi-layered rules that characterize this game, it goes beyond just a no-brainer ‘collecting’ of objects; but rather, processing information (i.e. your drawn card) and making logic of it through a sequence of commands and ‘if’ & ‘then’ conditionals – what happens when you have 3 carrots on your board and you draw a fourth rabbit card? What if you draw a standing rabbit but there are no peas on your board? What happens when you draw a fox?

We may be overthinking this, but after a couple of rounds, we find that this builds computational thinking and logical processing in an extremely fun, easy-to-understand, and non-intimidating way. It’s definitely more than just a game of collecting objects for sure; and we highly recommend it – if for nothing else, then at least for its contribution to your child’s overall cognitive development. 

RECOMMENDED AGE: 3 years & up
OBJECTIVE: To be the first to fill up your notepad with the 4 correct object tokens.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: Players pick a wooden ‘notepad’ (all showing 4 different objects each) to fill and take turns flipping over the tokens in the four market stalls in a bid to find the matching tokens. Does it match? Great! Take it and place it on your notepad; otherwise, turn it back and move on to the next player. (Psst… did someone else just flip over a token you need? Lock that in your memory and pick it up the next time it’s your turn!)

WHY WE LOVE IT: First of all, the game’s super cute market theme is sure to delight the tactile senses and imagination of any toddler. Your little shoppers will love ‘shopping’ at the various market stalls as they try to find the objects they need, which provides a great kinesthetic learning experience for them. Encourage them to make up stories, dialogues, and pretend scenarios as they go – this game might have been designed for bingo-memo play, but the opportunities for it to be an imagination and creativity driver is extraordinary.

Don’t forget to use it as a vocabulary and early concept building tool too – what kind of a shop do you think the brown bear is running? Who is the owner of the fruit stall? What is the colour of the cat’s boutique? The more expressive and detailed you are, the more language skills your little one takes away from this game!

RECOMMENDED AGE: 3 years & up
OBJECTIVE: To piece together as many animals by the end of the game.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: Exactly like how most memory games are played, everyone takes turns flipping over the cards on the table to find a pair of identical tokens for keeps – but, the twist here is that the tokens are not quite identical but rather, one part of a two-piece puzzle, which means that on top of memory; observation, information processing, and attention is needed!

WHY WE LOVE IT: Apart from everything mentioned in the last sentence? The fact that game play can be made even more dynamic than it already is. Traditionally, memo games require all cards/tiles to be laid out in an organized fashion – which we also recommended for beginner players; but, once you notice your budding geniuses getting the hang of it, why not turn the heat up a notch? Either make a practice of rearranging the cards every once in a while; or, better yet, have no formation at all. When the cards are randomly strewn around the table (but not overlapping each other), it takes greater memory strength to remember what’s where – and in fact, if you have a team of experts on your hand, have that reshuffled every once in a while too.

Side Note of Caution: When it comes to difficulty variations, do not push your child beyond what they can manage as it can lead to frustration which will deter them from wanting to revisit the game entirely. 

RECOMMENDED AGE: 4 years & up
OBJECTIVE: To be the first to complete your hedgehog without having any pegs on your clothes.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: Players take turns throwing the dice, and depending on what colour is shown, proceeds to either fill their hedgehogs up with a corresponding coloured peg – or clip the peg on to their own clothes if there is no available spot of that colour left on the hedgehog. (Click here for the full instructions in English!) There is also a white hedgehog and black hedgehog symbol on the dice that allows you to remove pegs from anywhere (your clothes, your opponent’s clothes, your hedgehog, or even your opponent’s hedgehog) – which is super nifty because the game is only won if you complete your hedgehog and have no pegs left on your clothes!

WHY WE LOVE IT: The nature of the game is just really fun and easy to get into, but without it being too simple that players lose interest quickly. The black and white hedgehog symbols on the dice are the real spice of the game – it introduces early decision making to players, and provides a very real, visual example of how one exact same decision, when applied at different times in different contexts, can create different results. For instance, if your dice shows the white hedgehog symbol, you are allowed to take any peg from your opponent’s hedgehog, your clothes, or your opponent’s clothes. So which do you choose?

Well, your circumstance determines which you should choose really; and this ‘choice’ can be completely different from one white hedgehog throw to the next. Sometimes, two out of those three options can be equally beneficial for you; and as such, how do you decide?

As easy going as this game is, we love the strong situational thinking and decision making skills that have been secretly embedded in the game. We especially love that it doesn’t just tackle the ‘whats’ of decision-making, but also the more important and often forgotten-about, ‘hows’.

RECOMMENDED AGE: 5 years & up 
OBJECTIVE: To fill up the picture cards with the right wooden sticks.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: The top of each picture card dictates which calculation sticks to use, so all players have to do is find the right spot to put them. Beginners can start with the outlined cards that guide them in terms of the proportions needed; while advanced players can move on to the trickier cards that come with no guided breakdown whatsoever.

WHY WE LOVE IT: We love any game that puts fun back into traditional academic learning, so this brand new Eduludo kid on the block definitely sits comfortably with us.

Calculation Sticks provide a very visual platform that leads to a clearer understanding of quantity and its relationship to numbers; and when used independently, can also develop an early understanding of concepts like ratios, proportions, fractions; or even mathematical operatives like multiplication and division. That aside, it isn’t so much of what can be learned from this game that we deem priceless, but the fact that it approaches learning from such a great ‘play’ standpoint that our learners rarely ever feel like they are in a lesson when trying their hand at it.

When we incorporate play into learning, it wipes away fear, hesitance, and a reluctance to absorb or retain information; and ultimately paths the way to a more positive and effective learning journey when these topics are eventually re-introduced to them as an academic subject in their later years.


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