Gaming Offline with Younger Children
Our family loves games. Everything from a building party in Minecraft to a Pokemon card game or a simple game of tag. Soon winter will be here and we’ll be relying on games to help us through the short, dark, and cold days. While video games are a lot of fun, even those can get boring when you play too much. We’d like to share some of our favorite board games.
Sometimes it's hard to find a happy medium when you have young children and adults playing together. You need something simple enough for the little ones to understand, yet interesting enough for older children and adults to enjoy. As much as my children love Hi Ho Cherry O, I just can’t do it anymore. So we were all very happy to discover Roll & Play™ Your Child’s First Game by Thinkfun. The game consists of a big soft dice with different colored sides and colored cards that match aside. One person rolls the dice, then picks a card that matches the color on the top of the dice and everyone acts out what is on the card. Roll & Play is advertised for toddler aged children, but even my ten-year-old likes to play this with his siblings.
We have a plethora of the usual “Jr.” games like Monopoly Jr., Life Jr., and Scrabble Jr. Also, classics like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. The predicament we find with these games is that no matter how much I tell my kids it does matter who wins, it’s about having fun, someone gets upset about not being the winner. As much as I want to prepare my kids for the competition of life, I also want them to learn about cooperation. The first cooperative board game we bought was Max (the Cat). It is for 1 to 8 players ages 4 and up. The object of the game is to get a bird, squirrel, and mouse to safety before Max catches them. The game itself is very simple. There are two dice with black and green dots on the sides. For each green dot, you move a little critter closer to safety, but for every black, you move Max closer to the critters. If he gets too close, you may call him back with a treat, but there are only 4 treats. One quandary with this game and smaller children is explaining what happens if Max catches the critters. If you like the idea of cooperative board games, Peaceable Kingdom makes several for different age groups. Our favorites being Hoot Owl Hoot and Cauldron Quest.
At some point during days stuck indoors, kids will start to get restless. When cabin fever strikes, sitting at a table (or anywhere) doesn’t help. Moving around can remedy this, especially if THE FLOOR IS LAVA! Seriously, Endless Games brilliantly published The Floor is Lava©. I find this a much better option than children jumping on furniture to not burn in the molten rock now covering the floor. Instead, stepping on the different color foam “rocks” keeps you from sizzling. This game is best played in a large, open volcanic area (or room), but you can scale it for smaller spaces. The object is to not fall into the lava. Seem simple? But the lava is rising! To determine which “rocks” are impervious, the designated lava tamer (or “spinner”) spins the wheel for the safe color. The last person to reach a safe “rock” has their previous tile taken out of the game. Just when you think you’re out of danger, you land on a “?” tile. Now you need to perform the task on the challenge card without becoming crispy. According to the rules, only the person on the “?” has to do the challenge, but we like to play that everyone does it. Also, we like to make our own silly challenges, such as you can only move backward or have to bunny hop to the next tile while singing a song from “Frozen”.
There are so many great games and we had a difficult time picking our favorites. If it was up to the kids, every tile-matching game we own and every favorite cartoon-inspired game would be noted. We also didn’t get to touch on our favorite card games (Old Maid and Uno) or favorite pen and paper games (Hero Kids), but they will have to wait for another feature. Let us know what your favorite offline games to play with younger children are in the comments below. We hope you like our list and maybe even discovered some new games that will become your favorite, too.
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