Board Games for Kids

September 22, 2011

This post is a bit of a shout out to my husband.  If there is one thing that he could spend all day (and all night) doing, it is playing board games.  I have to admit that when we first got married, I thought this hobby was a bit dorky, but I will say that board games are growing on me.  Everyone needs a down time activity, and as my husband points out - board games are a lot more social than video or computer games.  Now my husband is into inventing board games (he was a semi-finalist in this year's Canadian Game Design Competition). 

My husband aims to get our kids hooked on board games, and I will say that I don't mind.  Board game playing is a great way for children to learn new skills, and there really are a lot of good games for kids out there.  Some ways that kids can benefit from playing board games are:
  • number, shape, colour, and pattern recognition
  • counting, adding, subtracting and other math skills
  • letter recognition and reading skills
  • hand-eye coordination
  • focus and attention-span building
  • communication skills
  • how to follow rules
  • satisfaction from winning
  • sportsmanship - how to loose at something
I think one of the best things about board games is that kids develop social skills, and they learn a lot by interacting with parents and others who they are playing with.  So play fair, and be a good sport!

Now, not all board games are created equally.  There are some pretty cheesy and low-quality games out there.  Of course, there are some really great games for kids that adults can have fun playing too.  Here are some of my favourites.


This game plays similarly to Scrabble, where you play by laying down tiles, adding to the ones that others have played and then picking up tiles at the end of your turn.  Players score points for having tiles of the same colour or shape. This is actually a game for adults, but kids can have fun matching colours and shapes and making patterns out of the tiles.
Image via Mindware

Loopin' Louie
Although haven't actually played this game, it looks so fun I thought I'd give it a mention.  Loopin' Louie has won many awards and is the number one rated children's game in the board game community.  It is a manual dexterity game where you work to protect your tokens from a wildly fly airplane.  You can watch a video of the game in action here.  (The youtube channel I've linked to is a GREAT source for children's board games.  Games with Hayden has over 70 video reviews of games for kids.)

Image via BoardGameGeek

The Orchard
This game is a cooperative board game.  The players work together for a common goal, instead of competing against each other.  The object of the game is to pick all of the fruit from the orchard before the bad crow comes along and eats the fruit.  The game pieces are really lovely - the fruit is solid wood, and the baskets are really cute.  There are a ton of other great cooperative board games out there - it is not something that I knew about before, but I think it is a nice alternative to having winners and losers.
Image via Blueberry Forest

The Ranch - Make Your Own Game
A few months ago, after looking for The Orchard online, and realizing that it is a pretty pricey little game, I thought "I could make my own cooperative board game for children."  With the help of of my husband, we invented a cute little game that uses dollar store farm animals as pieces.  Players work together to fence in all of the animals before they run away.  My four year old LOVES this game and I think that it is pretty fun, too.

Are any of you into board games?  Have you ever made your own?  When my kids get a bit older, I will be encouraging them to follow in their Daddy's footsteps and invent their own board games.  In the meantime, we will be playing a lot of games and doing lots of learning in the process.

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