Are you looking for fun chess lessons to make the process enjoyable for small children? Here are 3 mini-games that are sure to encourage your child to want to learn more without overwhelming them. Small children have a short attention span, so plan for 5-10 minute lessons to get them started a few times a week.
Pawn’s Game: Begin with just the pawns on the board. Explain how the pawn moves, attacks and captures. The objective of the game is to move one pawn across the board to the 1st or 8th rank. While playing this game each time they make a mistake explain how the pawn moves captures and attacks. They might not fully understand for a few days, or might pick up on it right away depending on the ability of your child. Eventually, they will learn the pawn piece movement. After that they will begin developing their own strategy, and eventually they might even win the game naturally. If they have a difficult time winning consider providing them a handicap (you start off with 4 or 6 pawns and they have 8) until they are able to beat you with all of your pawns. Check out this YouTube video on how to play the pawns game for a demonstration.
Knight’s Game: Place an object (you may use pennies or beads) on 63 squares of the chess board, and place one knight on the last square. Explain how the knight moves, attacks and captures. The object of the game is to collect as may objects as possible. Each time the knight moves it must land on a square with an object and capture it. Once the knight has moved to a square, and is not able to capture an object – the game is over. Count up the collected objects to see how many points your child has collected. Each object equals 1 point. There is a pattern that can be used for your child to collect all 63 beads. Have them keep playing until they have collected at least 50 beads. This repetition of the knight movement teaches them all the different ways a knight moves, attacks and captures. Checkout this YouTube video on how to play the knights game for a demonstration.
Naming the Chess Squares: Introduce your child early to chess notation by making a game of naming the chess squares. Begin with a notated board and explain the files and ranks to your child. Explain how each square has a unique name beginning with the file and followed by the rank. Point to a square on the chessboard and ask your child to identify that square. Do this over and over again until your child’s attention starts to fade. After a couple of days change to a board without notation, or hide the letters and numbers. Ask your child the name of the square. Help them figure it out if they struggle. Soon they will begin to memorize the names of each square, and this game will become easy for them.
What other fun chess lessons have you taught to your small children?