Grown-Up Game Time


For some reason, my 2 ½ year old loves to get into our entertainment center and pull out all of the games. He has a playroom full of toys, but for “Miles the Explorer,” there’s just something about being allowed to play with anything that’s “off limits.” Well, I’ve made these games a special treat and found some ways to help him learn while he’s having fun.

Take Pente for example.



Okay, so you probably haven’t heard of Pente and I don’t blame you. This was a game my husband played when he was younger and he thought I might like it. Well, I didn’t and it just sat in the entertainment center collecting dust until Miles got his hands on it. He loves all of the little “marbles” he normally would not be able to play with. So when he does, he feels very grown-up!

Here’s how we play. We pour the “marbles” out in a big pile. That’s definitely one of the highlights of the game. Then we separate them by color.

4 Pente colors


We even spell small words with them. Miles actually started this when he saw what looked like a “C” on the floor. I just went with it and together we spelled one of his favorite words.

Pente letters

I also create patterns with him: black, green, yellow… black, green, yellow. We say the pattern together and he takes a guess at what’s next.

Pente patter

UpWords in another game he reaches for. Again, just pouring out all of the letters in a big pile is fun for him.


After that, we fish letters from the pile and put them in alphabetical order on the board. This is where I figured out just how far Miles had to go when it comes to the alphabet. Sure, he can sing his ABC’s perfectly, but really, it’s all memorization. Knowing what letter comes next is what we are working on now. I’m hoping this happens soon. Once you hit “Z” and have sung the alphabet for nearly every letter… well, you get what I’m saying.

photo 2 copy


photo 3 copy

Soon, all this “hard work” deteriorates into important tower making. I still try to call out letters for him to put on top of his tower. Sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t.

photo 4

Miles also loves to play games at Grammy’s house, a place where there aren’t too many toys. When she and I are chatting, he pulls out Boggle or the dominos with colored dots and makes up a game all by himself. This age is so fun to watch because everything becomes a game, especially for boys. It’s my job to turn these “Grown Up Game Times” into great learning opportunities.

What non-traditional ways are you trying to make learning fun for your little ones?


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The last few years have brought big changes for Emily. After spending years in high-stress, deadline-driven TV jobs in East Coast metros, family circumstances brought her and her husband Joel to the Arizona desert. Now this former news junkie is a stay-at-home mom to Miles, a fast-talking toddler with energy to spare. She spends her days teaching him about faith, letters, numbers and manners. Whenever he’s asleep she boots up the laptop to write for North Phoenix Moms Blog and other freelance gigs. Whatever spare time she has left is spent on a hike with her family or a rare date night with Joel, at the gym, coffee and dinner with friends, or in her craft room creating simple, beautiful jewelry for her online boutique, Hazel & May, and giving too many treats to her pups, Pepper and Gizmo.


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