Tales from the Bonny Blue House

Monday, April 10, 2006

Whatever happened to checkers?

Dave and I both had occasion to be in toy stores this weekend. He took the children to Toys R Us to spend some birthday money which was burning a hole in their pockets. While he did that I was at a smaller store locally doing some shopping for Easter baskets. I try to go light on candy and fill up with little things of religious significance or craft items. Since it wasn't crowded and I was alone I took some time to browse around, just walking aimlessly around the store. There were very few things I recognized from my own childhood. We were a game family. Checkers; chess; card games; Parchessi; Scrabble; Battleship; Life; and many more. Everything I saw seemed based on a cartoon character or an electronic device. Very little of what was there encouraged imagination or logic or even a bit of creativity. I found it kind of sad. Even the craft section seemed, to me, a little inappropriate for encouraging artistic ability or creativity. There were many kits to make your own lip gloss and nail polish and for some reason, sticking little rhinestones on your belly to imitate a tatoo (recommended age 4 and up). I am not saying there is anything wrong with making your own lip gloss (we are, after all, a house full of girly girls here) but when there are more offerings to make lip gloss and feather pocketbooks than paint-by-numbers; weaving looms and sewing kits I think the wrong message may be getting across. Everything does not have to be glittery and accomplished in ten minutes. Some things are worth taking time over. Last year I taught Erin how to play checkers. She loved the game and took to it immediately. She can now whip me at a game in no time flat. I was never very good at checkers and I am abysmal at chess because these are games that require patience (I have none) and a keen eye for what's coming ahead. Wanting to become better at the game has encouraged Erin to slow down and think. It's a shame the game didn't have the same effect on me. The value of these games of my childhoood is that by playing and mastering them a child increases problem solving skills, logical thinking and learns the value of healthy competition with an actual human being. Sportsmanship, fair play and courtesy also are developed and tested in playing board games and games of imagination. I just don't see some of the toys I observed this weekend doing any of that. So I decided then and there that here in the Bonny Blue House we will eschew all of that "twaddle" and play the old fashioned, slightly more complicated, games. We will continue to make candles, sculpy crafts, paper crafts, and handwork. Dave brought the children home with a few new PlayStation games and a DVD. Sigh..... As always, here is Mom going against the tide.... Some nice toy resources Catholic Child HearthSong Magic Cabin Insect Lore Julie's Stuff


  • Thanks for the great links. We are a checker/chess/monopoly/scrabble playing family. I like it that way and they don't know otherwise (yet!)

    By Blogger Rebecca, at April 10, 2006 2:00 PM  

  • >>As always, here is Mom going against the tide..

    Whatever it is you are doing, keep it up! Those five--I mean seven--little souls at the Bonny Blue house are incredible!

    By Blogger Alice, at April 10, 2006 4:26 PM  

  • Excellent post!

    Society preaches a dumbed down environment for our kids'. (I can't believe how many people have been shocked that my little ones enjoy some movies that aren't animated). We're the ones who set the bar. Playing checkers is nourishing to the soul (and chess is good for your brain, too)!

    I actually had a great uncle who passed away at a ripe old age, rather peacefully, while playing checkers with his grandson. What a way to go!

    By Blogger Love2Learn Mom, at April 10, 2006 5:05 PM  

  • Thank you for oyur kind words ladies.

    Some of my best childhood memories involve playing all kinds of games with my family. My father is a history buff and history quizzes and trivia games were a nightly dinner routine.

    I also have fond memories of imagination play, always outside, with cousins and nieghbor children.

    So few children these days are going to have those memories.

    By Blogger Mary Ellen Barrett, at April 13, 2006 1:19 PM  

  • Ooh, we love checkers - but we call it Draughts here - I think they are the same game! Certainly look it and sound it!

    Tonight we got out cards and played multiplication fact games with the cards - cosy and warm, as the weather is starting to get a bit of a chill each autumn evening...

    By Blogger Leonie, at April 21, 2006 7:06 AM  

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