Twice a week I sit down with my family and we play board games. Since our daughter is only four our choices are somewhat limited. It’s sometimes hard to decide which games your child will enjoy or will be able to understand. There are age recommendations with every game but ultimately it is up to your child. These are some of the games that we own and also games that have been recommended to me by friends. Not only are they fun they can be educational too.
Candy Land is a rather simple game that most young children can play with relative ease. The object of the game it to move from one end of the board to the other by doing what the cards tells you to do. Each card has one or two squares of a certain color. There are also bonus spots that have a candy cane, gingerbread cookie or other candy item on them. This game is recommended for children ages 3+. This is a game I know I loved as a child and my daughter seems to feel the same. It teaches basic colors and counting as well as how to take turns and play fairly. It’s a very basic game but it also a favorite among the youngsters I know.
This game is recommended for children six and up but can be played by a four or five year old with parental help. There are many pieces that can constitute a choking hazard so don’t allow a child younger than four to get the pieces. This game teaches basic building skills and chain reactions. Children learn how one action can have an effect on everything else around them. This game is also an introduction of the mechanics of how things work. The basic premise is to catch everyone else’s mice before they catch yours.
Twister is a classic game that has been around for decades. It involves a mat with different color spots and a spinner. A player spins and whatever color and body part (hand or foot) comes up must be played. A turn may consist of putting your hand on a red spot or your foot on a yellow spot. This game is more fun than it is a learning tool but can teach cooperation and coordination. Players often become intertwined while trying to follow the instructions and the first person to fail at their instructions loses the game. This game is recommended for ages six and up. This can be a great game to play as a family or for kids to play together.
The Memory game, as it’s name implies, helps to sharpen memory skills. The game consists of multiple sets of matching tiles. These tiles can have numbers, letters or pictures on them. The tiles are laid out on a flat surface upside down. Each player takes a turn flipping over only two cards to find a matching pair. The “My Little Pony” edition of the game we own is recommended for children ages 3-6.
Though bingo is generally thought of as an adult game it can be a great learning tool for youngsters. One person randomly picks out numbers and the first person whose numbers line up in a row wins. While traditional bingo uses numbers and letters there are versions that use pictures or shapes. Simpler versions have been created for three and four year olds that feature fewer squares and are easier to play. This game teaches numbers, order and is a lot of fun.
Though this isn’t technically a board game it’s a lot of fun for people of all ages. There are four “hippos” that have a lever on top of them. Balls or marbles are released into the play area and the frantic play begins. You simple press down on your hippo’s lever in an effort to ‘eat’ as many balls as possible as quickly as possible. The only downside of this game is that it can be rather noisy. Be sure to closely supervise toddlers who may want to put the balls in their mouth.
Shoots and Ladders
This delightful game is recommended for children ages four through eight and no reading skills are required. Players take turns spinning a wheel and moving the number of squares indicated. If you land on a good deed you will move up a ladder to advance in the game. If you land on a bad deed you will shoot down a slide and lose ground. This game is fun and helps emphasis that good things will help you go further than bad deeds.
This is a relatively new game and is recommended for children ages three to six. Cariboo is a treasure hunt with secrets, imagination and great fun. Children explore an island of surprises and they learn about basic ABC’s, counting, colors, shapes and fair play. The game can be played within fifteen to thirty minutes, which is perfect for short attention spans.
The classic game of dominos has been adapted to helping little ones learn about numbers and patterns. Versions geared towards young children (ages three to six) are played with shapes, colors or characters instead of dots. The basic premise of the game remains the same however, you must match up dominos that are in play with any of the ones you have.
Checkers is a game that can help teach a child basic strategy and planning. The game is played on a square board that consists of alternately colored squares. Each player has twelve checkers and they use moves and jumps to capture the opponents playing pieces. How quickly your child picks up the basics of this game will depend on your child’s age. This game is generally recommended for children age eight and up you may find your six year old can play with a little help from you.
This fun game is for children ages two to six. The game comes with 12 ducks and a ‘pond’ playing area. The ducks move around in a circular motion and children take turns picking up a duck. If the duck matches the color of the player’s nest they get to keep the duck. The player who collects three ducks wins the game. This game is a lot of fun for younger kids and helps with color recognition.