Inclusive Resource on Sensorimotor Child Development for Parents and Teachers

Board Games


Call me old fashioned but I love board games.  A while ago, the Sunday NY Times* ran a front page article about classic board games and the value of reproducing them digitally.  While certain strategies and dynamics of a game stay intact, I want to list the many aspects of a PHYSICAL Board game that build skills in a way that a digital game will never be able to reproduce.


  • These motor skills occur when physically manipulating the required pieces of a board game.
  •  Pincer grasp: As a child moves the piece (whatever it is) it requires the ability to hold and move it, placing it carefully in a specific place. This develops the pincer grasp.
  • Arm strength and control:  As the piece is moved, the arm works against gravity to make sure the piece is placed carefully. Solid arm control is a necessary precursor to activities such as writing.
  • In order not to knock over other objects on the board, the movement needs to occur carefully, which builds “grading of movement,” an important  aspect of all motor activities.
  • Visually scanning a board and the various objects related to the game is in a larger more variable visual field than on a small computer screen.  This develops visual attention, focus and adds a spatial demand. These visual skills are important for reading and writing and math.
  • Use of dice for young children usually requires two hands to cup and shake-this is a mini-motor workout in itself.  Cupping the hands requires more sophisticated use of hand muscles that are essential for fine motor dexterity, especially writing.  Using two hands is a great bilateral action and if you haven’t been visiting this website on a regular basis, I’ll tell you that bilateral is critical for most aspects of motor development as well as neurological integration.  Grading of movement is employed as the child learns to toss the dice on the board (as opposed to hurling them off the board).
  • Spinners required refined use of the index finger.  This requires isolation of movement and good timing.  It is a mini-motor planning lesson!
  • Physically manipulating (TOUCHING) the game components provides tactile stimulation, which is alerting and helps develop visual perceptual concepts.  Integrating this system also is important for self regulation.  The more children touch and manipulate objects of varying shapes and sizes, the better this system becomes. Yes, touching these objects helps to organize the brain and leads to improved ability to cope with the world. REALLY!
  • Finally, physically moving the pieces gives sensory feedback that reinforces the sense of one to one correspondence for learning (math).  Remember all the buzz of the importance of “Manipulatives” and schools have spent fortunes to fortify their math programs with these supplies.

There are lots of other great things about board games.  Some of them can occur in the digital version.  Enhanced graphics might even rival or surpass the enticement of the board game version.  But then, that leads to the use of imagination and personal enhancement of the images presented.  I still remember the strong emotional image of longing for that ice cream float, pictured on the 1960‘s version of Candyland.

IPads are amazing for many things.  They take up a whole lot less room.  I’ll make a simple plea, however.  Please don’t empty the board game closet yet!  Wait until your kids reach 10!

Now about that digital camera Barbie Doll.  Don’t even get me started on the use of women as tools..


*Here’s the New York Times Article:

Similar posts
  • A Shining Star! In our youth oriented culture, getting older tends to herald the decline of bodily functions and a wistful outlook, with memories of good times receding in the past. The silver lining of growing older, is that you get to witness how things turn out. In my case, I get to hear about the kids I [...]
  • Holiday Sponge Art Ten days ’til Christmas!  Planning simple holiday themed activities helps to channel some of that palpable energy.  The trick is to keep the projects simple. When kids’ sensory systems are overloaded with multi-colored lights, never-ending Christmas music and constantly changing routines, they don’t need any motor planning challenges. Activities that incorporate easy to do steps [...]
  • Gingerbread Houses I have been making gingerbread houses as a holiday celebration activity with the students for many years and it has become almost legendary. The children are thrilled. While it looks like all fun (and is!), I glean a great deal of information from this holiday activity. Benefits: I use the activity as an assessment of each [...]
  • Travel We are approaching the most heavily traveled season on the year.  Along with the joys of visiting family and friends, we often struggle through traffic jams of mammoth proportions.  Whether facing flying delays or miles of crawling traffic, when kids are in tow, the frustration and anxiety can multiply. No matter whether you take a [...]
  • Spiders! I am always looking for new ways to incorporate interesting drawing with the arduous task of learning how to draw diagonal lines, which are very difficult to learn!  After children begin to draw rudimentary oblique lines,  the next step is to draw diagonals in several directions and spatially accurate. Drills are boring.  Scary spiders are [...]

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to The Motor Story via Email