a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Oct, 2013

The games we play: checkers

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Oh! Things!

I haven’t been writing much about the games we play around here lately. Mark has been spending evenings with iPhone Scrabble and Grand Theft Auto (talk about your polar opposites!) and the girls have been absorbed with their iPods and games like Tiny Thief and Minecraft (yes really). I was reading upstairs the other night when my youngest surprised me by lugging our huge wooden chess/checkers/crokinole board and plunking it down in front of me. (It’s from Lee Valley and it’s all kinds of awesome.)

And so, we hunkered down for a game of checkers.

Classic games are good for our brains! Blog post to come.

Checkers is one of those games that’s easy enough to learn and can be played at different levels. I’m no expert. I’m about as green as my 12-year old. I haven’t played checkers very much at all. I was an only child in my family (I had no siblings around to play board games), and checkers really wasn’t something I played with friends. But I do enjoy playing checkers. I think it’s good for the brain. It’s good for MY brain because as I’m playing and focusing on the board I can actually feel myself stretching those brain muscles. I think it’s good for our kids’ brains for the same reason, if not more so.

There are huge developmental benefits to playing chess, checkers and similar board games. They aren’t like the other games we play, like Trouble or Sorry, in which it could be anyone’s game (thus maybe making it more fun for the younger ones). Checkers is not about chance, it’s about planning and sharp focus. Watching the board, analyzing and thinking about your moves two/three/or more steps ahead and your opponent’s moves is critical thinking at its finest. And as with every other game, there are lessons in patience and good sportmanship to be learned here as well, don’t you think? Checkers is a character-building game, and probably staves off age-related dementia as well.

There are so many cheap checkerboards around, there’s no excuse not to have one. I bet most people have one in their basements. You can even make your own checkerboard without too much effort. (Here’s a neat little tutorial for one made out of an old burlap bag.)

Is checkers something you play in your house? Or maybe you’re kicking it up a notch and playing chess with your kids? I’d love to hear about it!

3 Responses to "The games we play: checkers"

1 | Alison in Ottawa

October 11th, 2013 at 11:52 am


We’ve been playing the Carcassone and Catan games. We started with the junior versions and we just tried the adult version of Settlers of Catan and it was a hit with the 11 and 8 year old. I have to figure out the adult Carcassone before playing with them.

2 | Alison in Ottawa

October 11th, 2013 at 11:53 am


My parents just started Cribbage with them this summer too. Also a hit. We don’t have checkers but we do have backgammon somewhere…..

3 | Amy

October 13th, 2013 at 10:07 pm


We were just talking about this tonight. The three year old has been happily playing Go Fish and Uno. Card and board games were a big part of my growing up so I’m hoping they’ll be a big part of our home.

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