One of the upside of this pandemic has certainly been the extra family time we got this year. With so many days spent inside our house we had to find some fun ways to pass the time to avoid the extra dreaded screen time. Of all the activities we have tried, board games have become a fast favourite. An easy way for the three of us to play together and have a conversation around the table. Here are some of our family’s favourite kids board games for you to try too.
As I type, this has been a favorite in our house for the fifth night in a row. Using six colored die, competitors speed (or in my case usually, amble!) their way around a race track aiming to be the first across the finish line. Watch out for tires you can get stuck behind and fellow competitors who could bump you backward! This is a really great introductory game for littles, as it is all about basic counting and color recognition, so really young kids can pretty much play for themselves while building these skills at the same time. Made by one of my favorite kids’ board game makers, Haba, the box includes the six die, six (pretty cute) tiny wooden race cars, and the game board itself.
I love this company and their concept of non-competitive games that will not result in rainy day meltdowns (aren’t we already dancing on the edge with the words ‘rainy-day’?). Using creative board and card games, they encourage kids to work together and help each other, which is a great introduction to playing board games without immediately introducing the concept of winning and losing. Fairy Game was a pandemic purchase and we have had a lot of fun with it, even playing it over FaceTime with friends! Using cards, players have to help four fairies rescue their beautiful flowers from the clutches of the terrible Mr. Winter before his snowflakes become a gigantic snowstorm. Never fear – the fairies do have help with magic wand and unicorn cards along the way and the opportunity to share cards with their fellow players to make the magic happen! Peaceable Kingdom packages their boardgames in a sustainable way, including putting all the directions on the inside of the box so no losing those instructions!
This is absolutely one of my favorite kids board games, building (no pun intended!) on fine motor skills for kids, and honestly refining those of the adults! Another Haba game, the concept involves players selecting seven carefully carved wooden animals (choose from snake, monkey, sheep, toucan, hedgehog, cobra, and penguin) and using the dice provided to determine how the animals will be stacked on top of the base (a wooden crocodile). The detail in the pieces means the animals can be placed in many different ways and the higher the wall, the more challenging it becomes to ensure your piece isn’t the one to fall off (or cause others to fall off!). Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief if a roll of the dice reveals the crocodile, as the player whose turn it is can add one of their animals next to the crocodile, ensuring a wider base and hopefully a little less precariousness for all. Haba produces really safe, high-quality products so your only issue will be making sure that pieces don’t find their way under the couch (or for us, the dog’s bed!)!
This game is fun but comes with a small personal disclaimer. Using the initial rules, it just seemed too difficult to set up based on the included instructions, so we tweaked it a little to make the game easier for all. The aim is to help the beavers construct their dam using logs and sticks, with the winner being the first person to have no components left in their collection. Players start with a number of sticks (determined by the number of players) and the cards are chosen over the course of the game to tell them whether they need sticks and/or logs and how many each turn. It gets complicated and challenging once the dam really gets going because not only are you building the dam, some cards can also direct you to remove one or several sticks, which needs to be done carefully in order not to be the cause of the dam collapsing. Add some rather large beavers to the mix and you have a game that could take up a large chunk of time on that rainy day I mentioned earlier. Made by Djeco, a mindful creative company that sells games, toys, and crafts for kids of all ages!
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We like Ticket to Ride (kids édition) and Uno ! We were also just introduced to an Argentine (Latin American?) card game called Dables. Each card has 7 different images on it and you have to call a matching image from the card in your hand to the one in the center before the others do.