Creating games becomes more of a challenge when you try to create a game that youngsters can play. And the younger the player, the bigger the challenge. I was trying to think of a simple card game that my three year old grandson could play. I was stumped.
Then, as a group of us sat and talked one Saturday afternoon in a friend’s living room, someone noticed the twelve coasters on the coffee table. There were six sea designs on the coasters — fish and seahorses and waves — and each design was on a pair of coasters.
So someone asked my grandson to find the matching pairs, and he proceeded to do so. It reminded me of the card game, Concentration. And that gave me the seed of an idea for a simple card game for toddlers.
Concentration is mainly a memory game. When you flip over a Seven, you try to remember where the Seven was that Sue flipped over five minutes ago. But toddlers have not yet developed the necessary memory skills to do this. So I decided that in my new game, the cards that are flipped face-up remain that way for the rest of the game. You don’t have to memorize where the cards are located because they are always there for you to see.
For the playing cards, I could use the whole deck as you do for Concentration, but that could be pretty overwhelming for toddlers. So I started with just two suits of the same color, the Hearts and Diamonds. And since the face cards would be unfamiliar to toddlers, I used just the Aces through Tens.
To play this game, seat the players around the table, shuffle the cards, and lay them face-down in four rows with five cards in each row. You end up with a four-by-five rectangle of cards. Then take turns playing beginning with one player picked at random, and moving clockwise around the table.
On your turn, you flip over two cards and look for pairs. You can use the cards you just flipped over and cards that have been flipped over in previous turns. If you find a pair, take it. Take as many as you can find. Then your turn ends. Do not flip any cards face-down.
Keep playing until all of the cards have been paired and taken. Then each player counts her or his cards. The player with the most cards wins. You can change the game by using two different colored suits, such as Hearts and Spades. This would be slightly more confusing for a toddler, but still fairly simple.
Or you could stick with Hearts and Diamonds, but use the Aces through Kings. You would have to show a toddler the face cards before the game, and explain how to match these cards. When your toddler has mastered the beginning game, try increasing the number of cards by using the Aces through Eights of all four suits.