Here’s an idea for family fun this Spring Break season or on any rainy weekend: board games. Sounds corny, perhaps, but you can have a great time playing board games with your children. It is a golden opportunity to spend time together without any screens, and a good way to build skills, confidence and good sportsmanship (which you must demonstrate when your little one kicks your boo-boo). My family has played a lot of games over the years, on the road and at home, and we have fond memories of some marathon sessions. Here are some of our favorite games:
Monopoly (2-8 players, ages 8 and up): You can get a zillion specialized versions, but we like the original the best. This game brings out the competitor in everyone.
Life (2-6 players, ages 9 and up): Your older children will get a kick out of this game, which simulates a person’s travels through his or her life, from college to retirement, with jobs, marriage, and children along the way.
Uno (2-10 players, ages 7 and up): This classic card game involves getting rid of cards until you are down to one, at which point you must shout “UNO”. Best with four or more players.
Boggle (2 or more players, ages 8 and up): This is a game using lettered dice in a grid, which players use to form words.
Connect Four (2 players, ages 6 and up) is a good choice when there are just two players available. They take turns dropping colored disks into a grid, each trying to be the first to get four in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
Perfection (ages 5 and up): Players take turns rushing to fit 25 differently shaped pieces into their matching holes on a board before the board pops up and the pieces fly out. Kids love to try to beat the clock, and don’t mind “losing” when it means they can watch the pieces fly. Great for helping younger children with shape recognition and building concentration skills.
Trouble (2-4 players, ages 5-9): Be the first to get all four of your peg pieces around the board. Why kids love it: the die is encased in a bubble in the middle of the board (the “Pop-O-Matic”), which makes a cool popping sound each time you push it. Plus, if you land on another player’s piece, you get to send him all the way back to square one.
Sorry! (2-4 players, ages 6 and up): Players race their four game pieces from Start around the board to Home, following instructions on cards they draw from a center pile. As they move around the board they can switch places with players, and knock opponents’ pieces off the track and back to Start.
Newer games (not really board games, but a lot of fun to play):
Apples to Apples (4-10 players, ages 12 and up for regular version, 9 and up for Junior version, although kids 6 and up can handle the junior version): One of our favorites! This card game is best played with a large group for lots of laughs.
Bananagrams (2-8 players, ages 7 and up): This is a quick-paced game where you build your own crossword puzzle using letter tiles. Everyone plays at once, so there is no waiting. Sharpens word skills, and is portable—the tiles zip into a banana shaped case.
Scrambled States of America (2-4 players, ages 8 and up): this card game is based upon the very popular book of the same name. Players use their reading and geography skills to collect state cards, and the one who has the most state cards at the end of the game wins.
Electronic Catch Phrase (4-16 players, ages 12 and up): Players are given a word or phrase from an electronic disk, and then speedily run through as many clues as they can until their team guesses it. Then they pass the disk before it buzzes or the other team gets the point. The more players, the more fun. Children 8 and up can enjoy it; although the younger ones may have to skip a few phrases they might not understand.
Bop-It (ages 8 and up): Players take turns trying to follow the directions (which are heard from a speaker in the Bop-it device) at a faster and faster pace until time runs out. A fun mental and physical challenge.
What are your favorite games? Let us know!