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Zingo! – Our first family game

Over the past 5 years, I had wondered at what age would my kids need to be before we started playing card games and board games as a family.  With my older daughter (now 5-years-old), we had already started working on playing Crazy 8s, Hungry Hippos, and Candyland, but these were too advanced for our younger daughter (2.5-years-old).

Unfortunately, if we play a game with the older sister, then the younger sister gets annoyed and wants to join in, which doesn’t jive well.  Take it from me – kids under 3 should not touch playing cards, it just spells disaster and results in numerous decks with less than 52 cards.


So, when Santa brought a new game called “Zingo!” to our house this year, I figured that it would be another game that was to be played with my older daughter in isolation.  Thankfully, I was wrong – my 2.5 year old fits right into playing (with some moderate coaching) and now asks to play it on a nightly basis.

What is Zingo?  It’s a spin on the game bingo, where each player gets a Zingo card, but instead of letters it has toddler-friendly pictures in each box (dog, tree, smile, apple, etc.).  A small plastic dispenser sits in the middle of the table exposing 2 small chips with the same pictures and each player uses these chips to cover up different boxes on the Zingo card.  When all boxes are covered, you win.

We have really taken to this game, with a few modifications:

  • The game is designed to have players shout out or grab for the Zingo chips when you see a match, which may cause an unfair advantage for younger children.  Instead, we give each person a turn to take a first chance at the Zingo chips and then move to the next player if the options are not used.
  • We sometimes team up the kids with an adult and each team has 2 cards to fill up – this is more for trying to make each team “win” and avoid the game running too long if the remaining chips do not come out quickly.
  • We also try to make this educational by asking our older daughter to spell each object on her Zingo board and practice counting with both children, frequently asking “How many do you have left?”

Again, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much both of our daughters have taken to Zingo! – they maintain concentration and attention for a good length of time, the game-play lessons are evident but not traumatic (we always shake hands after each game), and the subtle math and reading skills we inject make this a great game for any family with toddlers and preschoolers.

One Response to “Zingo! – Our first family game”

  1. b says:

    Love this game too!!! Great article!

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