Our Favorite Games: Catan

Yesterday, I finally gave into Ray’s request to play Catan. Don’t get me wrong–I love Catan! But, it does take a little while to play, and Patrick is a hinderance, so it needs to be played during his nap, which is also my main workout/chore time.

But, we did it!

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With the all-important mid-afternoon latte, of course 🙂

Since my children are young and I need the game to be over more quickly than not, I changed up the rules a little. Right now, we don’t play with the robber baron. Instead, when you roll a 7 you get a free resource from the bank. Same with knight cards. It takes away some of the game’s strategy, yes, but it also keeps it moving and prevents little kids from being frustrated when they’re robbed or their resources are blocked.

Eventually, we will play with the full set of rules, but I’m not afraid to alter rules. If you’re sick and tired of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, pick your favorite game and see what rules you can bend to make it work for young children.

During yesterday’s game, Becky traded Ray 4 sheep for 1 wood. Not exactly a great trade for her, but great for Ray. We talk through things as we play, but I let them go ahead and make some mistakes here and there.

Playing Catan with young kids means hitting upon the basics of trade, negotiation, strategy, and scarcity versus demand. Also, of course, there’s the math component. Becky’s addition is getting much faster, I’m pleased to report, and even Ray did 1+ questions when the dice rolled accordingly.

Playing Catan certainly can’t replace math, but it provides a great hands-on way to provide mathematical instruction without the kids realizing that’s what’s happening.

What about you? Do you have a favorite game that helps young kids begin to learn strategy, economics, and math?

~ Lee

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