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2020 Gift Guide - The Tot's Picks

This Christmas the Tot is four years old. Playing games with small children can be tough, especially with their shorter attention span. The Tot's favorite games are represented here. Each is short and keeps his attention for the entire game... most times. I encourage you to keep trying with your littles, be patient, and you will have an excellent gaming partner in a few years.

Combo Color is a competitive coloring game. On each turn, players color in one space on the board. Symbols in the spaces determine the scoring: some items are summed together, some are multiplied, some require connections, some score negative. When all spaces are colored, the player with the most points wins.

This is a fun and simple game of strategy. The tot just colors a random spot but the rest of the family can work on strategy. The game can be enjoyable for everyone that way. There is also a wide variety of pages to play on with varying rules of play.

Dragon's Breath - On one of their expeditions the dragon children Mira, Feo, Luna and Diego discover an unusual sparkling treasure: a column of ice with sparkling stones frozen inside it. They want to take the treasure back to their cave. But unfortunately the column of ice is too heavy. The only thing they can do is to melt it. But breathing fire isn't as easy as it sounds. Instead of fire they only manage hot air. Then the four of them have an idea: they'll get their dad to help. And it works! Dad's fire breathing starts melting the column, and little by little the sparkling stones start falling out. The dragon children quickly collect the valuable treasures, and take them back to their cave.

This is a simple dexterity game for small children. There are varying rule options depending on age and ability. It can be played with a bit of strategy as you determine which color might fall off the "frozen" stack. The Tot loves the color identification and counting in this game.

In The Color Monster collaborate to help the Monster figure out his emotions. In turns, they roll the die that allows them to move the Monster around the board. When the Monster goes to a space with an emotion token, the player can pick it up and look for the right jar. The jars are all placed on shelves with their colors hidden. If the player chooses the jar which matches the color of the emotion, then they can place the emotion token into the jar. Otherwise, the jar goes back to the shelf as it was. In order to pick up an emotion token, players have to explain a memory or a situation in which they feel like the emotion they are picking up (Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Fear or Calm). The players can lose the game if the Monster gets too confused and they flip over too many mixed emotion jars, or win the game when the emotions are all placed in their correct jars.

The Tot really likes the book. We hand drew and colored our own copy of it. Playing the game brings the book to life for him. It gives us the opportunity to talk to him about what causes him to feel different emotions.

Little Cooperation is for 2 1/2 to 5 years old. It is a cooperation game. There are five cute plastic polar animals on one side of a bridge standing on 6 ice cubes and an igloo on the other side. With a chunky die players take turn taking their animals to the igloo before the bridge falls. The die has 3 outcomes: go to the bridge, go to the igloo, remove one ice cube.

We used to get this game all the time from our local library. The Tot has been missing it since our library closed due to Covid-19 in March. The game is very light and very luck based. It does help your child learn to take turns and work together though and those are great board gaming foundations.

Concept Kids Animals is a cooperative version of the game Concept, adapted for children who don’t yet know how to read. In turn, the children attempt to make the others guess an animal by playing pawns on the illustrated icons on the game board. Through this, the child indicates a feature of the animal to be guessed. Draw 12 cards and attempt to find as many animals as possible in order to get the most points together!

The Tot got this one for Christmas last year and it was all he wanted to do for months. It taught him how to describe things for better understanding. He learned what traits to explain for us to actually figure out the animal. It may be last on the list, but this is his all time favorite game, ever!

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