The Best Resources to Teach Children Chess

There are many reasons to teach children chess, some of the reported benefits include helping to improve visual memory, attention span, spatial-reasoning ability, critical thinking skills, math and reading skills.  There are even some studies that suggest playing chess can help increase a child’s IQ.

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There are lots of different ways to get kids interested in chess, so we have included links to the best websites, apps, books, sets and online videos that will help parents find the best ways to teach their own kids how to play.

*For very young children who are just beginning to learn a lot of people recommend teaching just one piece at a time. A good explanation on how to do this is here.

Chess Websites /Online Chess Courses for Kids

  • Chess Kid is the #1 chess site for kids. It has some free content that you are able to access if you sign up for a free account. There is also an option to upgrade to a gold membership that gives you greater access to videos and some of the other playing options on the site.  They have a few different pricing options, the basic is for 1 kid for one month for $7.99 or $49.99 a year,  up to 3 kids for $99.99 a year.
  • Chess Kids has some free online lessons for kids and has a feature that allows kids to play against the computer. This site also has as lots chess resources for parents and kids including videos.

Chess Apps for Kids

Most kids love playing against a computer once they have mastered the basics of chess. There are a number of apps that offer great introductions with fun tutorials, as well as the opportunity to play against the computer.

  • Chess Academy for Kids is designed to teach children chess in a step-by-step way, where they can learn as well as practice. This app is good for older children aged 8+ to teach themselves the rules and basic strategies of chess, as well as for younger children aged 5+ to learn chess with adult help. This app has tutorials and a game mode.
  • Dinosaur Chess: Learn to Play! is another app designed specifically for kids to learn how to play chess.  This app has 11 interactive lessons as well as 20 mini games and puzzles all with a dinosaur theme.
  • Newbie Chess isn’t designed for kids but it is a good beginner chess app that is okay for kids to use. This app has lots of graphical effects that make it easy for new players to understand game rules and tactics.
  • t Chess Lite  is another chess app that isn’t designed for kids but it is fun and easy for any beginner to use.
  • Chess Invaders is a game where alien forces are invading the galaxy and the player must defend the galaxy where everything behaves according to the rules of chess. The player has to move pieces according to their chess movement rules, so kids will learn the rules of chess while playing a fun game.
  • Shredder Chess Lite if you are looking for something a little more serious you can try Shredder. It’s one of the most successful chess apps with lots of features for the serious player.

Beginner Chess Books for Kids

It is useful to have a reference book for kids who are learning chess so they can read about the various pieces and learn rules and strategies. There are quite a lot of children’s chess books, these are some of the most popular and best reviewed:

  • Chess for Children: How to Play the World’s Most Popular Board Game by Murray Chandler teaches kids the basic moves of chess and it explains all the rules in step by step manner. The game is taught through a cartoon character, George, and his pet alligator, Kirsty, a self-proclaimed Grand Alligator of Chess.  Murray Chandler has a few other very popular chess books including Chess Tactics for Kids, Chess Puzzles and How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, but if you are looking for a great beginner chess book Chess for Children is the one to get.
  • Chess for Kids by Michael Basman is another very good book to help make chess understandable to children  Like most other DK books the pictures are very good, the text is simple, and the information is arranged in such a way that so kids can easily refer to the book as they play.  It covers all the basic information that kids need to know about chess including the history and detailed information about each of the pieces.
  • Checkmate!: My First Chess Book  by Garry Kasparov is another very popular choice as an excellent book for beginners. It covers the basics, the pieces and their moves, notation, winning and drawing, etc.
  • Chess is Child’s Play: Teaching Techniques That Work by Laura Sherman and Bill Kilpatrick is a book specifically written for parents who are trying to teach their kids chess. This  book has a step-by-step method for teaching chess to children. This book is especially good for parents who don’t know how to play chess themselves because it teaches the parent the game while showing how to teach your children.

Chess Sets for Kids

If you already have a chess set there is no reason to buy any special type of set, but if you are having a bit of trouble getting your kids interested in chess and are looking for a cool set that might help spark an interest in chess, or you are just looking for a good beginner set, you could try some of the following sets that are easy and fun for kids to use:

  • No Stress Chess is a neat way to approach chess for a beginner. This chess set uses cards that tell you which piece to move. Once you become comfortable with the moves and what each chess piece can do, then you can flip the two-sided board over and play regular chess. This set includes rules for two variations of playing using the action cards, and all the necessary rules for standard chess. This game is great for anyone who might be a little intimidated by learning chess.
  • ThinkFun Solitaire Chess is another fun game that is a different approach to learning chess for a beginner. This game is more of a puzzle game than a chess set, but it is an easy way to help kids learn the rules of chess. The game has one set of pieces that lets the player use the movement of chess pieces to clear the entire board. There 60 puzzles that include levels for easy, medium and hard.
  • Science Wiz Chess Once A Pawn A Time  is a fun beginner chess set that is great for young kids. The instructions books are entertaining and easy to understand and written in a style that is more storybook that instruction book.
  • Super Mario Chess  would obviously be a good option for any child who is a Mario fan. The set is a little pricey, but it’s a nice set with great reviews so it would be fun if your kids are into Mario and you would like them to learn chess.
  • LEGO Kingdoms Set Chess Set  is another pricey set but would be a good way to help encourage a child who loves LEGO to learn chess.

Teaching Kids Chess Videos

Chess Kid has a great introductory video that will help your kids play chess

This video is a good overview of chess done by Archie Jennings and his eight year old son.

 

Hopefully you found something that will help you teach your kids chess, if you have any resources that you have used and really like let us know in the comments below.

photo credit: jessamyn via photopin

Teach Your Child Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking isn’t really the most exciting topic to break down, but helping to develop it in kids can actually be really fun and fascinating. You can easily add a few simple techniques to your daily interactions with your kids that will produce some amazing conversations and insights into their brains and thought processes. You probably already do lots of things to develop your kid’s critical thinking skills without realizing it, but if you don’t why not try out some of the tips below? You will be glad that you did, promise.

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In case you are a little foggy about what exactly critical thinking entails, it basically means knowing how to think, not what to think. Kids can develop critical thinking skills or the ability to evaluate and analyze ideas and concepts, but it is something that does not come naturally, it needs to be encouraged and guided by teachers and parents as the child develops.

Easy things you can do at home:

  1. Ask your kids open-ended questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer. Your goal is to try to stimulate their thought processes, so you should be talking about something that the child is interested in and something that really makes them think.
  2. Be a devil’s advocate and say something outrageous that your kids have to argue with you about and disagree. This can help them learn how to find flaws in someone else’s evidence or reasoning. Also make sure you are giving the child time to respond. There is no rush, just enjoy the silence while they think about what they might say.
  3. When reading books, have children make connections and look for clues that will help them to think more deeply about what they are reading.  Making connections will help your child learn how to use what they already know to tackle new problems.
  4. Give your opinion and show your own thought processes by thinking out loud about how to solve little problems or complete tasks around the house.
  5. Let your kids make decisions themselves by weighing the pros and cons of a choice and don’t be afraid to let them make the wrong decision. Later you can discuss with your child about how they think the decision turned out.
  6. If you like watching TV with your kids, you can talk to them about commercials and how information can be manipulated to make claims that aren’t necessarily true or check out Get Media Smart. It is a great site for young people that encourages users to think critically about media and become smart consumers. Activities on the site are designed to provide users with some of the skills and knowledge needed to question, analyze, interpret and evaluate media messages.

Read More: Fun Ways to Help Kids Learn Mental Math

Videos

An easy way to get kids to start thinking about how they think is to watch these fun videos that were created by the Foundation for Critical Thinking based on their book Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking for Children.

Apps

Here are some of our favourite apps to help develop critical thinking in kids:

  • Blokus HD  is a fun app that is based on the super popular Blokus board game.
  • Question Builder is designed to help elementary aged children learn to answer abstract questions and create responses based on inference.
  • MathLands teaches kids ages 7 + math problem solving, math logic, critical thinking and pattern recognition skills.
  • Rush Hour is a sliding block traffic jam puzzle where your goal is to get the red car out the exit gate by moving the blocking cars and trucks out of the way.

Books

  • Visual Discrimination, Grades 2 – 8 is a fun workbook designed to teach the skill of visual discrimination, the ability to recognize similarities and differences between different things. The lessons in this book are pictorial analogies that are arranged in lessons of increasing difficulty.

Online Games

Another fun way to encourage critical thinking skills involves solving riddles, brain teasers and such games as Sudoku or crossword puzzles. They help engage the brain and encourage kids to think about different ways to solve problems. Here are some good sites to check out:

  • Brain Boosters has a huge list of online educational activities that you can sort by Lateral Thinking, Logic, Reasoning, Spatial Awareness and more.
  • Sudoku for Kids is a fun way to practice your math and logical skills.
  • Cool Math  have so many games on their site you will have no trouble finding some good logic and puzzle games to help with critical thinking building.
  • Cyberchase Games Central has some very good logic, puzzle and pattern games.
  • Puzzles  have lots of fun and easy puzzles for kids.
  • BrainBashers  has more advanced games, puzzles, crosswords if you are looking for a bit of a challenge for your kids.

Toys and Games

If you’ve been to a toy store in the last little while you probably will have seen these Perplexus maze games. They are fun and infuriating.

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Or if you want some great strategy board games try Blokus, Qwirkle or Mastermind board games that help develop critical thinking and logic skills.

Read More: Resources to Teach Children to be Resilient

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