We’re a board game kind of family. Even before we had kids, Mike and I loved to spend an evening playing games. Whether it was a rousing game of Skip-Bo with a group of friends or an intense game of Scrabble between the two of us, it was always a good time.
We’ve made an effort to continue this tradition with our kids, but I’ll admit it can be a little painful during those early years. Yes, I love a good board game, but one too many slides down a ladder during Chutes & Ladders and I’m feeling a little chute-y myself.
Elena is nearly ten now, and we’re getting into some really great games with her, which I’ll happily share in a future post. Eli, at 4, is beyond Candyland, but not quite ready to tackle some of the more challenging games that we can play with Elena. It can be hard to find games that kids in that wide of an age range can enjoy together (or with parents), but we’ve found a few really good ones we’d love to share. The criteria:
- Fun for all ages – doesn’t make the adult want to poke their eyes out with a blunt instrument or reduce preschoolers to puddles of sobbing frustration.
- Relatively fast - no 2 hour gaming marathons for this age set.
- Doesn’t require adult participation – for those times when parents need a break or are entertaining other families, we want a game kids can play together without requiring adult help.
Playing more games together was part of our Summer Manifesto. Here are a few suggestions to help you make it part of yours:
Spot-It (from Blue Orange games) is a different take on the classic matching game. Each round card features various symbols. Any two cards always contain one (and only one) matching symbol. There are 5 different ways to play, making the experience slightly different every time. It’s challenging enough to be a fun and even match for all ages, but not so challenging that preschoolers will get frustrated. I especially love the size and packaging of this game – the small, round tin would be easy to take with you to pass time in restaurants or take along on vacation. At this price point, it would make a great birthday gift for a child’s friend, too.
We’ve had this game forever. In fact, I believe we’re on our 3rd or 4th recycled egg carton. The original packaging died a long time ago! The game comes with 9 rubber eggs, 1 wooden egg and 2 wooden dice. Rolling the dice gives you an action to complete (such as running around the table or crowing like a rooster) and direction on where to place the egg (like between the knees or under the chin). Once an egg is in place, you have to hold it there – even while performing other actions! Drop an egg and the round is over and points are tallied based on the number and kind of eggs you have. This game is just as amusing for adults as kids and always full of laughs. I might or might not have peed myself I was laughing so hard during a particularly hilarious round.
Another game that always results in giggles. One player is the judge. The judge turns over a green apple card, which features a one word characteristic, such as chewy or scary. The rest of the players choose from their red apple cards to find the one they believe is best described by the judge’s card – a volcano, a unicorn, toast? Each player then tries to convince the judge why their card is best. If the judge picks your card, you win! First player to win 4 rounds wins the game. This game is fast-moving, easy to understand, and still entertaining to all ages. I love hearing the clever things kids come up with to sway the judge. Even young preschoolers can play this game – you can either read the cards for them or just let them choose their card randomly (be prepared for some hilarious comparisons this way).
This is such an open-ended game! The small, playing card-sized case comes with 9 cubes. Each side of the cube features a different image. Roll the cubes and let the images inspire your story. There are so many ways to play this game, but one of our favorites is to play at dinner and go around the table having each member of the family add to the story. Another portable game that would be perfect for long waits and travel.
We got this game as kind of a joke, not really thinking it would amount to more than a few hours of entertainment. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Based on the app, players take turns building, launching and destroying the pigs’ wooden castles. Oddly enough, I found the game to be a great teaching tool for preschoolers, requiring them to match shapes and follow patterns. Plus it’s just plain fun to launch the little rubber birds.
What are your family’s favorite games to play together?
Disclosure: Links to games are affiliate links. I was also given a complimentary Spot-It game. While I wasn’t required to blog about the game, we love it so much I couldn’t resist sharing my opinion of it with you.