I'm not sure if it's true in every bookish family, but when I was a kid, we did a lot of reading and a lot of board-game-playing. And most of my really bookwormy friends also enjoy games.
So assuming that you guys are the same way, I thought I might do a couple of round-ups of some of my favorite games. I'm going to start with some of the games that Eleanor and I have been loving lately.
Go Fish and Old Maid
These are quintessential favorites for a reason. The rules are easy, kids think they're fun, and as a parent it's relatively painless to play them over and over again. Eleanor especially loves Go Fish, but we've been playing both a lot. She has trouble holding more than a half dozen cards in her hands at once, but she got this Little Hands Playing Card Holder for Christmas, which has made it a lot easier to play!
This one is perfect for teaching math. We bought it last summer, when E was barely four, and she had a little trouble with the subtraction. But now she's a whiz! The game comes with three dice, two with numbers, and one with plus and minus signs, so when it's your turn you move your snake or frog "6 - 3" spaces or "4 + 2" spaces or whatever. Which makes Sum Swamp both fun and educational! I like the sturdiness of the playing pieces too. They've held up well to Juliet's teeth.
Super Why ABC Letter Game
Also educationally fun is the Super Why ABC Letter Game. This one was perfect before Eleanor was actually reading - it helps kids to pick out the first letter in words, rhyme, say the ABCs, and sound out simple three-letter words. It's a little too easy now, but she still likes to pull it out every now and again, just because she loves being Princess Presto.
There are about a million versions of this one, with various pictures. The original Spot It! is recommended for ages 7-12. We have Spot It Junior Animals, which is recommended for ages 4 and up. It's a super easy 2 player game: you each simultaneously flip over a card, and then you try to be the first person to spot which animal is on both of your cards. Some of the versions for older kids require you to match a picture with a word, instead of matching two pictures.
Trouble might be our family favorite. We all can play this... well, when it's Juliet's "turn" we just let her press the bubble a few times to make it pop. But Eleanor is old enough to giggle maniacally when sending someone home now. Although she's less excited when she gets sent home... we've had a few talks about sportsmanship with this one and with Sorry!
If you've never played Crazy Eights (shockingly I just discovered a month ago that Noel never had!), it's basically like really easy Uno. It teaches kids to match suits and numbers, and it's a quick fun game. A round usually only lasts two or three minutes, so it's perfect for when you don't have long to play. I've thought about buying My First Uno, but I think we'll just stick with Crazy Eights a little longer, and then go straight to "real" Uno, since we already own that.
I find this less fun. Actually, I find it slightly mind-numbing if I'm being totally honest. But Eleanor really loves this one. If you haven't ever played it... it differs from regular Scrabble in that the crossword is already all laid out. You draw tiles, and on your turn you match your tile to a letter already printed on the board. Which seems redundantly un-fun to me, but I guess the game-makers knew what they were doing, because it's apparently 4yo heaven.
Chutes & Ladders
This might be the game I hate the most though. I can handle all the other classics - we play a lot of Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherry-O! and Cooties and Memory, but for some reason Chutes and Ladders just NEVER ENDS. I always end up cheating and sliding one of our pieces up a row or two while Eleanor's busy flicking the spinner. Because otherwise it just draaaags. I will give it props on teaching counting though. It makes you do a lot of counting up and down.
Sequence for Kids and Hoot Owl Hoot!
We don't own either of these, but they get really great reviews. I'm going to buy one of them for Eleanor's birthday. I was leaning toward Sequence for Kids because Noel and I like the adult version a lot, but I'm intrigued by Hoot Owl Hoot! because it's won a lot of awards. And that game creator (Peaceable Kingdom) has a whole line of "cooperative" games... which might mean that I'd have to do a few less sportsmanship lectures while playing that one... If you and your kids like either of these, let me know!
What games do YOU like?
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