If you listened to the soundtrack of our house on a weekend evening, you’d most likely hear rolling dice, shuffling cards, and murmured voices discussing strategy. Our family loves to play board games, and we play various games weekly.
Start Them Young
My son started playing games around three years old. We started simply with Tic-Tac-Toe and memory match. It wasn’t long before he was beating me at memory on a regular basis. We progressed to Candyland quickly and learned colors. Then came Chutes and Ladders and counting spaces. And when my son was six years old, he finally “got it,” and started beating me at Tic-Tac-Toe. Suddenly, he understood the role of strategy.
When my son was about seven, we discovered many newer games and got serious about gaming. My new husband introduced us to lots of exciting games and we’ve spent countless hours playing together. Below is a list of our favorite family games. All of these games make excellent family gifts for the upcoming holiday season. Or, try one this winter at your own home!
Best Cooperative Game: Forbidden Island. In this game, your family is a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of a dangerous island. Your team will have to work together to collect the treasures and escape before the island is swallowed into the sea. The game recommends ages 10+, but we played this game starting at age seven. Check it out.
Best Card Game: Hands down, my son’s favorite card game is Uno. It’s an easy to learn game based on matching colors and numbers. Invented in 1971, Uno is a staple on any home’s game shelf. For ages 7+. Check it out.
Runner Up: Sushi-Go.
Best “I Can’t Sit Still” Game: Ice Cool. This is a fun dexterity flicking game that appeals to kids and adults. Players have to flick their penguins around the school to collect fish or play the Hall Monitor to catch the others. For ages 6+. Check it out.
Best “Learning What Strategy Is” Game: Qwirkle. This game consists of 108 wooden blocks with six different shapes in six colors. Using the blocks, players attempt to score the most points by building lines that share the same shape or color. The premise is simple for younger kids and challenging for older kids and adults when it comes to strategy. For ages 6+. Check it out.
Runner Up: Blockus
Overall Best Family Game: Ticket to Ride. This is a cross-country train adventure where players collect cards of various colors of train cars that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities across the United States. This game has taught my son geography of the USA! Plus, it helps him learn how to plan ahead, collect cards, play defensively and prioritize. The original game covers the USA, but subsequent games are in other locales. For ages 7+. Check it out.
It’s Your Move
How often does your family play together?
Playing board games teaches our children so much. They learn to take turns, work together, play fairly, think ahead, and to win or lose with grace. Plus, we make timeless memories. On that move, everybody wins.