Nica’s current favorite “bored” games

Nica, 5, loves playing games of all kinds. She is especially into board games and card games lately. But having a toddler-age brother makes it difficult to play properly, especially when the game is something as tantalizing as Candy Land.




By the way, why are there so many versions of Candy Land? And each new version is more obnoxious-looking than the last. There’s Candy Land The World of Sweets, Candy Land The Kingdom of Sweets, Deluxe Candy Land, Super Deluxe Candy Land The Oligarchy of Sweets…. OK, I made up that last one.

Recently, Nica had a mild cold that kept her home from school for a few days. So, she got to play some games while Ham napped.

Pros of playing games:
-It’s a great way for kids to practice reading and counting.
-Kids learn to follow rules and to win and lose at least somewhat gracefully.

-It requires more than one player, which creates near-constant “Mommy, wanna play [a game that you can’t stand playing]?”
-Kids don’t always lose gracefully, not even somewhat.

Besides Candy Land, the two games that Nica kept wanting to play when she was home from school were Digging Up Sight Words and Mermaid Beach. The first was designed by Teacher Created Resources, the second by a 9-year-old girl.

Honestly, I am amazed that Nica enjoys playing Digging Up Sight Words. The object of the game is to collect bones by filling in the right sight word in sentences. Now, I think this game could be worthwhile for a kid who is just beginning to sound out words and learn their meanings, so the challenge would be to read the words and then figure out the right choice for the sentence. But if your kid can already read and converse, the game is way too easy, because the filling-in part is a no-brainer. I started to get the feeling that Nica liked the game only because she got all the questions right. And, not to toot my own horn, but I got them all right too. So, woo-hoo. Not very fun at all. I guess I’ll try it again with Ham, in a couple of years.



Meanwhile, Mermaid Beach is one of the few kid games that I can actually enjoy playing. It’s got elements of Go Fish, Old Maid, Uno and other card games. You can see how this was created by a kid. And it works! The art on the cards is fun, and after you learn the rules and different cards, game play is unpredictable and engaging. An extra plus is that kids practice addition and subtraction.



Hands down, the kid-designed game far surpasses the teacher-created one. They should let kids design games more often.

Don't make me play this.


But maybe not my kids.

Knock-knock jokes on the way to school


Nica: Knock knock.
Ham: Who dah?
Nica: Ice cream.
Ham: Ash kee who?
Nica: Ice cream for ice cream then fall flat on my face! Hahaha!
Ham: Hahaha!


Ham: Nodok.
Nica: Who’s there?
Ham: Mamjak.
Nica: Mamjak who?
Ham: Jakoo aaa! Hahaha!
Nica: No, Ham, you’re supposed to say “mamjak” and then something else.
Ham: No!
Nica: Yes!
Ham: Nooo!
Nica: Yeees! Yes! You have to say “mamjak” first!
Ham: No!
Nica: Mommee! Ham is doing knock-knocks wrong!
Me: Mm-hm. OK, here we are. Here’s your bag. Have a great day! Bye!
Nica: (About to enter school building) Bye!
Ham: Mamjak.

The snowman cometh.


A few weeks ago, the kids made a snowman.

 That's a handsome snowman.


Ham and Nica were very proud and fond of him. Nica named him—wait for it—Frosty. Archie and I warned the kids that the days were getting warmer and that Frosty would soon start to melt. (Nica, being a big girl of 5, gave us a “No duh!” kind of response.) The kids looked out the window every morning to check on Frosty, who was indeed beginning to deteriorate. At first Nica was dismayed at Frosty’s decline, but after a few days, she developed an almost sadistic-slash-scientific attitude about it.


Still a good-lookin' snowman


But 23-month-old Ham understood neither our warning nor the natural forces that were causing Frosty’s erosion. Every morning, Ham reacted as though Frosty were suffering from some type of snowperson’s degenerative disease.


Horrified Ham


Every day, Frosty’s condition worsened.


OK, looking less good


Oh, boy


I gotta hand it to that snowman, though, because he outlasted all the other snow.




When Frosty was nothing but a couple of snow bits, Nica wrote him off. But Ham still held on.


RIP, Frosty


The next day, Frosty was completely gone. For a while afterward, Ham still asked about the snowman, and he had mini tantrums when I couldn’t make him appear. But he, too, finally forgot about Frosty and moved on with his life.

Then, a couple of nights ago, it snowed again. When I told the kids in the morning that it had snowed, Ham ran to the window, shouting “No-mah! No-mah!” I thought at first that he wanted to build a snowman. But when I saw the confusion and disappointment in his face, I realized that he had expected Frosty to be there, in his old spot. Apparently, Ham believed that snowmen are resurrected every time it snows. I said, “Don’t worry, we can make a new snowman soon.” But he didn’t want a new one.


Only one snowman will do.