Christmas Games, Unplugged
By Patti Hermes – Parent to Parent –
I don’t know about you, but I find the battle to limit my children’s screen time gets more difficult during the long dark days of winter.
And their latest Xbox nas PS4 obsessions dominate their Christmas wish lists. But with names like Super Mario Galaxy or Super Paper Mario or Super Smash Bros Brawl, who can keep it all straight? And don’t get me started on which games are Xbox, Wii, PS4 or PC. That’s a language I still struggle with, but don’t tell my kids.
The gaming world is so vast there’s literally something for everyone , everyone who wants to sit in front of a screen for hours just to get to the next level, that is. For the rest of us, there’s still plenty of digital toys, gadgets, and let’s not forget the latest movie and television releases on Blu-Ray DVD. Yes, you can watch shows on TV, then go out and buy those same shows to watch again on DVD. Strange, but true.
Every once in awhile, I can be heard to say, “But what if the power goes out? What if your battery dies on your computer? What then?” Checkers and chess often lead to arguments. The minions grudgingly allow me to introduce them to the wonders of a deck of cards, should that very disaster ever befall our household. But should I dare ask them to make up a game? It inevitably will be based on a video game.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are games out there that will capture and engage the brains of the screen-addicted tweens and are good for the whole family. You just have to know where to look. For the strange and unusual, the internet is your friend.
MindWare bills itself as “brainy toys for kids of all ages”, and they’re not kidding. Toys for babies up to adults, with an emphasis on using your noggin. Ever hear of Quirkle? It’s a shape and color-matching game (good for younger children) that requires logic and strategy, which equals fun for the whole family. MindWare also has an interesting collection of craft kits, fun science kits, and so many different kinds of building kits for all ages that you might not be able to pick just one!
How about building and destroying, all in a game of strategy and creativity? Destruct 3 is perfect for some indoor gaming, just don’t expect it to be a quiet game. You can find it at Uncommon Goods, along with plenty of other unique and creative toys and games, like the remote-controlled SUV that you have to build first.
You can find more unique gifts at HearthSong. With their exclusive Connectagons and Constructagons, your kids can build small or colossal, depending on how much room you have. Then cover their creations with play silks and they have a clubhouse! Or if you have a budding chemist in the household, head to Home Science Tools for kits and project ideas that make science fun.
I remember, as a child, the gifts that I didn’t ask for were often the ones I loved best. While even the best-loved video games only hold my children’s interest until they’ve won the highest levels, it’s the simplest, most basic toys and games that they come back to, time and time again. It may take some extra effort to seek out a special surprise, and there’s always a chance they won’t fall in love with it right away, but anything that stokes the creativity around here is always a good thing. And makes for a very Merry Christmas.
Patti Hermes is living the dream with her high school sweetheart, raising their boys in the Midwest because it’s a good starting point for epic road trips. While writing, reading and homeschooling take up most of her time, she still blogs at http://writesforchocolate.blogspot.com.