How to Teach Kids to Play Chess
* This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. See my full disclosure statement to learn more.
Whether you are a chess player or are being exposed to it as the same time as your children, the game of Chess is a great way to help kids learn to problem solve, think strategically, work on math skills and have a lot of fun doing it. You may be wondering if your child is old enough to begin chess. I looked at a forum on chess.com to see at what age starting Chess was recommended. It seems like a lot of people know kids or were kids that started at age 4. I think that as long as the kids are having fun, and you are not pushing it, kids can start at a variety of ages. At my daughter’s school, they have chess club, and I know there were a few of the kindergarteners who had a lot of fun participating. Today, I want to introduce you to Yamie Chess, which is the way we just began teaching our children the game. I also get to offer you the chance to win Yamie Chess with my giveaway this week.
Yamie Chess (affiliate link added for your convenience) is aimed at children age 5-12. I highly recommend going through the process with your children. It is too advanced for a 5 year old to go through on their own. I think it was helpful for my 7 year old to have an adult with whom to play. My other children, age 3-5, wanted to be at the table while my 7 year old and I played, so it was fun to see what they picked up on along the way also.
Backed by Harvard and MIT math experts, the Yamie Chess award-winning math learning toy is named a Mom’s Choice Awards’ Gold Recipient, School Library Journal’s Best Education Pick of 2014, and US child development expert Dr Stevanne Auerbach PhD’s Dr. Toy Best Vacation Toy of 2014 with Lego Systems.
Dedicated to building children’s math skills for schools, Yamie Chess was designed by US Chess Champion Jennifer Shahade in partnership with experienced US math teachers for elementary and middle school children.
My Personal Review of Yamie Chess
So, we now have the game and have begun playing together. What is my opinion about Yamie Chess? I think Yamie Chess is a highly creative way to introduce children to chess. The game comes with a chess board that features all of the Yamie Chess character around the edges. The Chess pieces have images of the characters on the base of each piece. You can see the bottom of the pieces in the picture with my daughter (above). The game also comes with colored pencils and a book. This book, looks like a coloring book and has elements of a coloring book. However, the book also contains the story of a different world with a variety of wonderful, colorful characters. The king, queen and supporting players all have names, unique stories and unique ways of moving. Therefore, the game of chess is introduced through a story. You can also meet these chess pieces online to understand a bit more about how the game works.
Throughout the story, there are times to pause and color the images in the book. There are also times to pause and set up the players to explore how they move. Some of this was parent guided as well. The book contains a full map that can also be colored. The map reveals all of the locations in the “Mind Kingdom.” My daughter really enjoyed going back to refer to the map as she was reading. The story introduces you to the good (white pieces) and the evil (dark pieces) in the Mind Kingdom, and your child can begin to journey through this world while beginning to understand how the game of chess works. Your child will be exposed to a lot of the story (really aimed at teaching kids the movement of pieces) before their game time even begins.
We have only been able to play this a couple times since receiving the game, but my kids have been engaged. My seven year old is the one who is really reading the book and learning the game. I see this as a product that would be highly appealing to very imaginative kids who like stories that are based on fantasy. Personally, I really like the concept of the Yamie Chess experience, but I did find it really heady. My daughter (age 7) is a good reader, and she was able to navigate all of the words, but the vocabulary was advanced, and we had to explore the meaning and the depth of the story together. Even the names of the pieces were complex to pronounce. That said, I think it is good to challenge children appropriately, and I could especially see children who love literature (especially fantasy) really connecting with the game.
Although I found the game to be aimed at an audience older than my 3 and 5 year old, I was fascinated to watch them interact with the game. They sat and listened to Abby read, and as she was reading, they were setting up pieces, making them move and enjoying the interaction. When we took a break from the book, I found my two younger kids treating the pieces like they were characters rather than just game pieces. I think this a big aim of the game. The creators want to bring Chess to life by connecting the players with imagination.
I am excited to continue down this exploration of the game of Chess through the Yamie experience. The game promises to teach children more about math and exploring the base ten number system, place value, number operations and a variety of other math skills. I skimmed through the rest of the book and noticed there are math story problems woven throughout the stories. The great thing about this is that they have different math problems aimed at different grade levels. They might present a situation or a problem, and a first grader would have to solve a certain, age appropriate problem while a 4th grade might solve a different aspect of the problem. I also see it diving into laws of science as well. I feel like some kids could learn to grasp the depth of some some of these deeper math and science explorations, while others will enjoy the story of the characters. Some kids might just learn to play chess and not take it to the headier level. Like I have implied, the game was developed by a chess champion, math educators, engineers and scientists from some pretty impressive educational backgrounds. It feels like that. There are good things about that (challenging kids to higher level thinking) and drawbacks (might be too complicated for some kids). That said, I do believe that kids could learn to connect with the game at different levels, especially with parental involvement.
One thing I would also say is that my daughter was anxious to dive into the game right away. Rather, there is a lot of build up to begin to play. I think she would have rather have skipped a lot of this build up and been able to dive right in and play.
Yamie Chess Giveaway
Are you intrigued? Are you ready to try and win your own Yamie Chess game? Now’s your chance. Winners will be chosen at random. This giveaway is available for 18+ and the winner must have an address in the United States. Good luck!