My daughter seems to be more interested in her brother's toys and games than her own. So, a few weeks ago, I decided it was time that she got to play some of those games - to use them to help her learn. She will be two in November, so she isn't actually old enough according to the manufacturers suggested ages for any of the games that we have. We had gotten the Original Memory Game and Candy Land for my son the Christmas when he was almost 2 1/2, so we had used them before to help our son learn before we could play the game the "right" way.
My daughter's vocabulary is at that point where it is starting to expand. So, I decided that we would start with Memory. Only, instead of turning the cards upside down we placed them all picture side up. I would ask her to find the bananas, the crayons, the watch, etc - starting with the words and pictures that she knew. As we moved through the words and pictures she knew, I would start to pick up the first card and say, can you find the other squirrel (as an example), showing her the picture and allowing her to form the connection between the name and the picture. She has gotten really good at remembering where she saw the card and when I say the next item to look for, she quickly jumps up and finds both cards As we have played, her vocabulary is growing and she knows the name of all the items now. In fact, she has started telling us what she is going to look for.
Even my 5 year old will play with her, which is a nice chance for them to learn to play together and for him to help her learn. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to have a few minutes while they are entertaining each other to make dinner, clean up dinner or whatever task is at hand.
For other tools to help you and your family check out Toolin' Up Tuesday at Life As Mom. Look for other tips and tricks at Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks In My Dryer.