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Games and kids belong together! I had board games in my kindergarten classroom and now I have a collection of games at home for my own children.
I am a big believer that children learn through play. Games teach taking turns, strategy, and etiquette. It is a bonus if you find a game that reinforces educational concepts.
Games are a wonderful way to get the kids to the school table – whether it is to start their homeschool day or to work on their homework. If my kids are dragging their feet about starting our school day, I put a game on the table. They love our favorite games, so they will happily come to the table to play. After the game is over we start school. I use the same strategy to round-up the kids after lunch too. It only takes a few minutes and is more effective (and nicer) than yelling!
I always recommend ignoring the age levels on the box. I think in general, game manufacturers underestimate kids and label games harder than they should. You know your kids and are the best judge of their abilities.
Our Favorite Games
Uno – To play Uno each player wants to get rid of all their cards first. You can play a card by matching either the color or number when it is your turn. This game is incredibly simple and great for the younger crowd. If your child can differentiate colors and numbers, they are ready. My kids have been playing it since they were toddlers. Honestly, it is a little young for them now, but it is small and handy to throw in a travel bag so we keep it around.
Scrabble Alphabet Scoop – The object of this game is to spell one of the words on your card before your opponents. But be careful, if you accidentally get a fly in your ‘soup’ you have to pour the entire ladle of letters back into the pot. The words are all between 3 and 5 letters long.
Bingo – We have been playing Sight Words level 2 Bingo this past year and it has really helped Ben identify and read many sight words. There are many different versions of bingo though – alphabet, addition, subtraction, etc. It is such a basic game, but kids always seem excited to play.
Blokus – This game is all about spatial reasoning skills and strategy. Each player has a collection of various game tiles that they need to fit on the board, but you can not put it right next to another straight line. You want to have the fewest number of squares left at the end of the game. We play this so often, our box is falling apart!
Mystery Mansion – Mystery Mansion is a Lakeshore Learning game recommended for grades 4-6, but I have used it with younger kids with success. Each player must answer a multiple choice vocabulary question correctly to move forward. Along the way they will receive clues to solve one of 10 mysteries. First one to solve the mystery wins.
Rush Hour – This is another spatial reasoning and strategy game. Basically, there is a traffic jam that players need to navigate to drive off the game board. We play this game cooperatively. Playing games cooperatively is a great way to practice and improve communication within a group. One of the things I like about Rush Hour is that there are 60 challenges, with 5 levels ranging from beginner to grand master.
Pyramix – The object of Pyramix is to have the most points at the end of the game. You earn points by choosing one cube from the pyramid on each turn. Choose your cube carefully though, the design on each cube is worth 1-3 points. There is a bit of luck mixed in with strategy.
Q-bitz – Q-bitz is a visual dexterity game. Each player has a tray with 16 cubes. The players want to be the first to recreate the pattern displayed on a card. This game is harder than it looks, but is great for encouraging attention to detail.
Chess – Kids as young as 4 or 5 can start learning the rules of chess. It really is amazing how quickly they grasp how the pieces move. Chess is a fantastic game for learning to think ahead. Kids learn to make a plan rather than act impulsively.
Forbidden Island – We always play Forbidden Island as a family. Technically, you can play with as few as two people, but it is easier with 4. I think this is one of the most challenging games we currently own. The players work together to collect all four treasures before the island sinks. This game requires a lot of strategy and communication with fellow players.
Monopoly – Our Monopoly board is near and dear to our hearts because it is the same board my husband played with his grandmother. They spent many hours playing the Washington DC version of the game. Now that we live away from DC, it is fun to see the familiar street names. This game is best for older kids who have the attention span for an hour + of game strategy.
Ticket to Ride – Ticket to Ride is a recent addition to our game closet, but we have played it plenty of times. This game involves some strategy, while also teaching a bit of geography.
I am always on the look out for new games to add to our collection. What are your favorites?
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